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1DH12 Gene: Is it a cure for HIV?

HIV, just the acronym alone strikes fear in the hearts of those who utter it and those that hear it. It’s been roughly 25 years since it first came to the forefront of the public’s attention, and so many advances in it have been achieved, yet there’s still no real promising cure in sight — or is there? So far, all we’ve been able to do with the virulent disease is find ways to slow its progress, but little else. Not that that’s any small feat considering the rampant pace with which it was claiming lives 20 years ago. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed much in third-world countries.

Promising Breakthroughs
But now in developed countries, people are living relatively normal lives and adding years to the survival rate, increasing the likelihood of some of its victims actually living long enough to see a cure in their lifetime. Recently a man in Europe is believed to have beaten the odds as the result of an experimental procedure that was implemented through a bone marrow transplant in order to save his life from leukemia. He had contracted HIV many years earlier and had been living a relatively symptom-free life from it with the help of immunosuppressant medications when he developed leukemia. Near death and with nothing left to lose, his doctor was struck with a thought that he decided to pursue.

Previously unheard of, the patient received stem cells from a donor who was immune to HIV. Though highly uncommon, it seems about 1 percent of the Caucasian population is immune to HIV. These individuals hail predominantly from Europe where it is believed the immunity gene goes all the way back to the plague based upon the theory that people who survived the plague somehow passed their immunity down to their heirs living today. If this is found to be true, an end could truly be in sight. But researchers and scientists are loath to jump on the “yippee-we’ve-found-a-cure bandwagon” just yet and remain stoically cautious, but hopeful nonetheless.

Further Studies Needed
But that’s not the only promising news on the horizon. The gene 1DH12 is being studied right now as a possible answer to the AIDs epidemic. It’s much like the gene CCR5 or delta 32, as it’s known, that is present in the heirs of plague survivors. Not a lot is known about it, and it’s definitely not layman reading material. In fact, we’d liken it to a brain freeze being preferential as compared to trying to comprehend the myriad of documents written about the findings thus far. But what if it were to hold some potential? What if the promise of a cure or a vaccine really were to become a reality in the not-so-distant future? Think of what it would mean.

It almost makes one giddy just thinking about it. But before we get too excited about it, it’s important to note that we’ve got a long way to go before anything definitive comes of it. It’s still in the very early stages or infancy, if you will, of its testing and comprehension to just exactly how it might pan out in the long run. But it is encouraging to note that through genetic paths we may one day be able to solve the riddle to this and many more diseases where hopefully cures will prevail to help alleviate man’s pain and suffering one day soon.

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