Monday :: Dec 13, 2004

Besting The Grim Reaper - And Busting George Bu$h


by pessimist

Deep beneath the reportage of the various elections and election-related scandals across the United States and the world, World AIDS Day passed almost unnoticed.

We've all heard all the stories about how bad AIDS is, and we really want to do something about it. But AIDS only seems to be a pandemic in poor, non-white countries with large, non-Christian populations. Wouldn't be prudent to waste 'tax relief' on anyone but the Toppers!

I'm not going to don the Berylium beret today by suggesting that there is something to the rumors that AIDS was a bioweapon that didn't quite work as well as the eugenicists who created it had hoped. Instead, we're going to present a sign of hope that this 'gay disease' can actually be cured.


HIV's crystal key

HIV's biggest challenge to science and medicine has been its ability to consistently mutate, outrunning any drug or vaccine custom-designed to quash it. Rutgers University chemist Eddy Arnold and his coterie of researchers have developed what they regard as three revolutionary AIDS drugs, each part of a family they call DAPY (which rhymes with happy).

The drugs, they believe, can destroy HIV, the deadly virus that causes AIDS.

The most promising of the three DAPY drugs in the family is a new supercompound known as R278474.

Because DAPYs can be delivered in just one pill instead of the present drug cocktail taken by millions of AIDS patients, Arnold and others believe, they are another step toward the goal of creating a cheaper, more effective way to stay ahead of the epidemic.

So far, tests conducted internally at New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson indicate the drug is a snap to synthesize, is easily absorbed with minimal side effects and shows promise as a once-daily, low-dose oral treatment.

Once testing is completed - assuming that the initial results prove out - the Bu$h (mis)Administration will have no good excuse NOT to fund programs designed to end AIDS.

They will have to walk the talk of their 'moral values'.

At the core of this discovery is reverse transcriptase -- the villain in this story and a submicroscopic protein not normally found in healthy human cells. The team believes RT is the ideal protein to disable because it offers so many opportunities to be blocked. "Reverse transcriptase is very important in the biology of AIDS," said Stephen Smith, a physician/scientist who directs the department of infectious disease at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark. "If you can really inhibit reverse transcriptase, you can stop AIDS."

Reverse transcriptase is composed of two coiled chains of amino acids, the same building blocks found in egg whites, milk, blood and meat. The protein is minuscule; if laid lengthwise on a ruler, you could fit about 2.5 million RTs within one inch. Though easily mistaken for a tangled piece of confetti, RT is a highly complex machine. Composed of chains containing combinations of 20 amino acids, it is folded in unpredictable ways.

Compared with HIV's other proteins, protease and integrase, RT is monstrous and complex, a lethal Rube Goldberg device seeking conquests at warp speed. RT inhibitors interfere with an enzyme that HIV needs to copy itself. If the enzyme fails to function, HIV cannot insert itself into a human host cell and will die.

I wonder if they can create a vaccine guarding against neocon Republicans?


Marking World AIDS Day [Scroll Down]

Arizona Daily Star: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has made "remarkable progress in a short period" in the fight against HIV/AIDS since it began operation in 2002, according to a Daily Star editorial. While the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is "admirable," the fund targets "far fewer countries than need the money" and the United States "should not pull back programs that have shown to be effective," such as the Global Fund, the editorial concludes (Arizona Daily Star, 12/5).

Jackson Clarion-Ledger: HIV/AIDS "breaks all stereotypes" and the "biggest killer with this incurable disease is ignorance: how it's spread, how it's treated, how it's prevented," according to a Clarion-Ledger editorial (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 12/3).

Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina, which has "struggled" to provide antiretroviral drugs to low-income HIV/AIDS patients and did not spend enough on prevention education, "ought to be prepared to do more," according to a News & Observer editorial. Funding for HIV/AIDS treatment should come first, followed by a "more vigorous" public awareness campaign, the editorial says (Raleigh News & Observer, 12/5).

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: World AIDS Day is important because "it keeps this killer in front of the public," which often has dismissed it as a "gay" and "druggie" disease even though evidence is "clear" that it is not confined to either group, according to an Argus Leader editorial (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12/3)

David Bryden, Oregonian: Criticism of the Bush administration's involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS is warranted and needed, Bryden, communications director for Global AIDS Alliance, writes in an Oregonian letter to the editor in response to a Dec. 1 Oregonian editorial. While Bush deserves credit for launching the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, he has simultaneously cut funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is needed to "tackle" the HIV/AIDS pandemic worldwide before it "overwhelms" more countries, Bryden concludes (Bryden, Oregonian, 12/6).

Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times: "Too many of [evangelical Christians'] allegedly kindred spirits have remained inert" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Falsani, a Sun-Times religion writer, says in a Sun-Times opinion piece. She concludes by asking "instead of giving that weekly tithe to the local church to build a new fellowship hall, how about sending it to Africa to buy antiretroviral drugs that will keep somebody's parents alive or send an orphan to school?" (Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/3).

Charisse Grant, Miami Herald: The "sense of urgency" surrounding the HIV/AIDS crisis has "dissipated," but the "need is still critical" and the "concern is still high," Grant, director of programs for Dade Community Foundation, writes in a Herald opinion piece. Health officials and organizations should make HIV/AIDS a "priority" in "policy and resource allocation," and the community "must recognize the urgency, build on the progress made and resolve not to lose ground in saving lives," Grant concludes (Grant, Miami Herald, 12/5).

The miracle of modern medicine - something rapidly becoming solely the 'privelege' of the wealthy who can afford it - showing great promise in creating treatments and cures for so many diseases. Just today alone, there are stories on potential breakthroughs in cures or treatments for SARS, heart attacks, Alzheimer's, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (the human form of mad cow disease), and also announcements of economic support to treat malaria, breakthroughs in understanding the causes of strokes (more here), while the best Bu$hCo can do is move Mike Leavitt to HHSfrom EPA (where he did such wonderful things that benefit multinational corporations TO the environment), continues to resist the will of the rest of the world by not abiding by the Kyoto accords, sitting on his hands while urban air pollution worsens, refusing to enforce the Clean Water Act, continuing to allow corporate murderer Dow Chemical to evade responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, not lifing a finger to assist financially-troubled trauma centers to prevent closures, lax rule enforcement allowing oil spills in Alaska and the Delaware River, and so very much more.

Read enough of these, and it's clear that there are only a couple of health issues that George Wealthybrat Bu$h cares about: a healthy personal income, and healthy profit margins for multinational corporatist investors who don't give a damn about anything else either.

But thanks to the Red Staters and their 'moral values' we're stuck with this schmuck and his cronies for another four more years - at least.

May George Bu$h turn your Red State into Louisiana.

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pessimist :: 5:33 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!