Unfortunately, it is important to always be cautiously optimistic. I contacted the EATG (European AIDS Treatment Group - www.eatg.org) and they sent me this one view from the ATAC e-mail list (AIDS Treatment Activist Coalition - www.atac-usa.org):
"The general assessment I’ve gotten from scientists I trust most is that
this a pile of hooey, yet another bit of science by press release coming
out of Texas lately. It seems to be in the blood there, or maybe the
university system has hired a PR firm and is trying to figure out what
to do with it. The notion that there is some small unchanging region of
the HIV envelope, usually in the V3 loop, is something that’s reported
about once every year, each time claiming to have found the holy grail,
or is it the holy loop? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve
heard about “the Achilles heel” of HIV, each time it’s something
different. There are indeed some highly conserved regions of HIV that
are targets in vaccine development, but as far as I know, not by this
group. Most people I’ve asked have never heard of these people and they
certainly about part of the usual crowd of HIV researchers. It’s hard to
say whether they’re talking about a treatment or a vaccine. Either way,
they don’t seem to be mentioning any of the things normally associated
either with drug testing or vaccine development. If it’s about vaccines,
what’s going on in the animal studies? They sound like they just want to
jump into humans. If it’s for a drug, what does the FDA have to say?
Have their claims been verified by anyone? In one sentence, he’s quoted
as saying it’s the key to a preventive vaccine. In the next sentence, he
says “if we can get the viral loads down to a manageable level, that
will preclude the need for these conventional drugs." So what is the
goal here, a treatment? A preventive vaccine? A vaccine that would just
reduce the viral set point? We already have excellent controls for
getting the viral load reduced.
And why is the story bracketed by tales of a patient who is on
conventional antiviral therapy and doing very well?
This article tells us nothing, and maybe it’s because there really is
nothing tell us. If they really have something new or different, there’s
a well established way for presenting for review by the scientific
community. Press releases like this are not the way."
And, unfortunately in this case, these activists know their stuff. We will know more if there is good news about it from the XVII TH International AIDS Conference, in MEXICO CITY, 3-8 AUGUST 2008 (www.aids2008.org)
Hope that everyone is having a great summer.