by Temesgen Abera / 727 Views
by Temesgen Abera / 203 Views
As the World Health Organization prepares to convene an emergency committee under international health regulations on Monday February 1, many are now wondering exactly where the Zika virus came from. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Zika went from its first discovered case in 1947 and sporadic appearances up until last year, the virus is now in outbreak stage with WHO officials concerned that it may become a pandemic. World health researchers seem perplexed as to the genesis of the virus or at least, the sudden appearance and rapid spread of it in 2015.
Claire Bernish of The Anti-Media points out one possibility:
When examining a rapidly expanding potential pandemic, it’s necessary to leave no stone unturned so possible solutions, as well as future prevention, will be as effective as possible. In that vein, there was another significant development in 2015.
Oxitec first unveiled its large-scale, genetically-modified mosquito farm in Brazil in July 2012, with the goal of reducing “the incidence of dengue fever,” as The Disease Daily reported. Dengue fever is spread by the same Aedes mosquitoes which spread the Zika virus — and though they “cannot fly more than 400 meters,”WHO stated, “it may inadvertently be transported by humans from one place to another.” By July 2015, shortly after the GM mosquitoes were first released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil, Oxitec proudly announced they had“successfully controlled the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90%.”
Though that might sound like an astounding success — and, arguably, it was — there is an alarming possibility to consider. Nature, as one Redditor keenly pointed out, finds a way — and the effort to control dengue, zika, and other viruses, appears to have backfired dramatically.
The mosquitoes that were released by Oxitec OX513A, were genetically engineered to need the presence of tetracycline in order to survive to maturity. Outside of the presence of tetracycline, they die. The idea behind the GM mosquitoes, was that they would be released into the wild and would mate with the natural female mosquitoes (only males were modified). The offspring that result are also supposed to die without the presence of tetracycline in their system. The GM mosquito program was introduced under the guise of controlling disease-carrying mosquito populations to reduce the amount of diseases in humans that were spread by mosquitoes. There is a massive problem with this program, however, most notably, the fact that the presence of tetracycline in the environment is not as rare as one might suspect. Particularly in a place like Brazil.
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Image: GM Mosquitoes With Possible Link To Zika Virus Awaiting Release In Florida (GR).
by Temesgen Abera / 1,993 Views
by Temesgen Abera / 1,988 Views
Doctors in Barcelona, Spain believe they have found the cure to HIV – the AIDS-causing virus that affects the lives of more than 34 million people worldwide, according to WHO.
By using blood transplants from the umbilical cords of individuals with a genetic resistance to HIV, Spanish medical professionals believe they can treat the virus, having proven the procedure successful with one patient.
A 37-year-old man from Barcelona, who had been infected with the HIV virus in 2009, was cured of the condition after receiving a transplant of blood.
While unfortunately the man later died from cancer just three years later, having developed lymphoma, the Spanish medical team is still hugely encouraged by what it considers to be a breakthrough in the fight against HIV and related conditions, according to the Spanish news source El Mundo.
Doctors in Barcelona initially attempted the technique using the precedent of Timothy Brown, an HIV patient who developed leukemia before receiving experimental treatment in Berlin, the Spanish news site The Local reported. Brown was given bone marrow from a donor who carried the resistance mutation from HIV. After the cancer treatment, the HIV virus had also disappeared.
According to The Local, the CCR5 Delta 35 mutation affects a protein in white blood cells and provides an estimated one percent of the human population with high resistance to infection from HIV
Spanish doctors attempted to treat the lymphoma of the so-called "Barcelona patient" with chemotherapy and an auto-transplant of the cells, but were unable to find him a suitable bone marrow.
"We suggested a transplant of blood from an umbilical cord but from someone who had the mutation because we knew from 'the Berlin patient' that as well as [ending] the cancer, we could also eradicate HIV," Rafael Duarte, the director of the Haematopoietic Transplant Programme at the Catalan Oncology Institute in Barcelona, told The Local.
Prior to the transplant, a patient's blood cells are destroyed with chemotherapy before they are replaced with new cells, incorporating the mutation which means the HIV virus can no longer attach itself to them. For the Barcelona patient, stem cells from another donor were used in order to accelerate the regeneration process.
Eleven days after the transplant, the patient in Barcelona experienced recovery. Three months later, it was found that he was clear of the HIV virus.
Despite the unfortunate death of the patient from cancer, the procedure has led to the development of an ambitious project that is backed by Spain's National Transplant Organization.
March 2016 will mark the world's first clinical trials of umbilical cord transplants for HIV patients with blood cancers. Javier Martinez, a virologist from the research foundation Irsicaixa, stressed that the process is primarily designed to assist HIV patients suffering from cancer, but "this therapy does allow us to speculate about a cure for HIV," he added.
by Temesgen Abera / 7,873 Views