We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
We have had good news over the past couple of years in terms of
tackling AIDS. This item reviews the prospects on the way forward in
terms of finally beating this disease. It has become promising.
As important, the battle to understand AIDS dragged us out of a
medical and biological dark age into a world in which it has become
plausible that disease in general will all become a problem of the
past. We are not there yet ,but we are palpably closer and even
close enough to think in terms of rethinking the whole process of
Today it can be done because the mystery of biology is disappearing
We would have reached this level of understanding in time, but AIDS focused the mind like nothing else. It was the Medical Space Race.
Now the mere fact that one person has been cured informs us that it is
now possible. So we will keep trying.
looking into two main paths toward a cure for AIDS, based on the
stunning stories of a small group of people around the world who have
been able to overcome the disease.
Despite progress in
treating millions of people globally with antiretroviral drugs,
experts say a cure is more crucial than ever because the rate of HIV
infections is outpacing the world's ability to medicate people.
"For every person
who starts antiretroviral therapy, two new individuals are infected
with HIV," Javier Martinez-Picado of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research
Institute in Spain told the International AIDS Conference in
Washington on Tuesday.
Some 34 million people
around the world are living with HIV, which has caused around 30
million AIDS-related deaths since the disease first emerged in the
drugs are helping more people stay alive than ever before, they are
costly and must be taken for life. Experts say only a cure or a
vaccine can make a sufficient dent in the deadly pandemic.
While a cure certainly
remains years away, he said scientists can now "envision a cure
from two different perspectives," either by eradicating the
virus from a person's body or coaxing the body to control the virus
on its own.
The most extraordinary
case of an apparent cure has been seen in an American man in his 40s,
Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the "Berlin patient," who
was HIV-positive and developed leukemia.
Brown needed a series
of complex medical interventions, including total body irradiation
and two bone marrow transplants that came from a compatible donor who
had a mutation in the CCR5 gene, which acts as a gateway for allowing
HIV into the cells.
People without CCR5
appear to be immune to HIV because, in the absence of that doorway,
HIV cannot penetrate the cells.
"Five years after
the (first) transplant the patient remains off antiretroviral therapy
with no viral rebound," said Martinez-Picado.
"This might be
the first ever documented patient apparently cured of an HIV
However, while the
case has provided scientists with ample pathways for research on
future gene therapies, the process that appears to have cured Brown
carries a high risk of death and toxicity.
this type of intervention is so complex and risky it would not be
applicable on a large scale," he said.
Tuesday he was launching his own foundation to boost research toward
a cure as the US capital hosts the world's largest scientific meeting
"My plan is
basically to find donors to get funds to help research and set up a
system to decide who gets the money," said a frail-looking
Brown, 47, adding he planned to dedicate his life to finding a cure
"I am a living
proof that there could be a cure for AIDS."
Another group of
intense interest is known as the "controllers," or people
whose bodies appear to be able to stave off HIV infection.
One type, known as the
"elite controllers," test positive for HIV but do not
appear to have the virus in the blood, even without treatment.
Researchers estimate there may be a few hundred of these people in
Another type is the
post-treatment controllers, or people who started therapy early and
are able to stop it without seeing the virus rebound. Some five to 15
percent of HIV-infected people may fit this category.
More details on a
group of "controllers" in France known as the Visconti
Cohort are expected to be released at the meeting this week, as
international scientists share their latest data in the hunt for a
described a "promising" study by US researchers, published
in the journal Nature on Tuesday, that looks into using new drugs to
get rid of the virus when it holes up, or lies dormant in the immune
Led by researchers at
the University of North Carolina, the small study on eight
HIV-positive men taking antiretrovirals probed how a lymphoma drug,
vorinostat, could activate and disrupt the dormant virus.
Patients who took the
drug showed an average 4.5-fold increase in the levels of HIV RNA in
their CD4+ T cells, evidence that the virus was being unmasked,
demonstrating a new potential strategy for attacking latent HIV
"We now actively
talk of potential scientific solutions in a way perhaps we weren't
some years ago," said Diane Havlir, AIDS 2012 US co-chair and
professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.