AIDS is a modern epidemic of tragic proportions. Every day, it’s estimated that approximately 8,000 people lose their lives to the disease. Millions more will have their lives significantly shortened after being diagnosed with HIV. In Africa, the toll is particularly heavy and devastating.
Scientists from around the world have been uniting to find better and more efficient ways of treating AIDS. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease of the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As AIDS progresses, it interferes more and more with the immune system, leading to some very challenging symptoms.
When someone first contracts AIDS, they may experience a brief flu-like episode, accompanied by sores around the mouth and genitals and/or a rash. After this period, there may be a long gap before the next symptoms start to show up. Eventually, however, in most cases, the virus begins to interfere with the immune system in more radical ways. At this stage of progression, symptoms run the gamut from infections to tumors, fever, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle pains. Up to 70% of people also develop enlargement of the lymph nodes.
Because the disease attacks the immune system, multiple health issues can arise that need to be treated individually.
There are many different drug protocols (both natural and man-made) that have been developed to treat the symptoms and progression of AIDS. But a cure for AIDS still eludes even the most dedicated and brilliant researchers on the planet. AIDS is a very complex disease that has so far remained impossible to crack.
However, new hope has recently surfaced in the global search for a cure and it centers around a substance called “prostratin.” Prostratin is a naturally occurring compound found in the bark of the mamala tree. The mamala tree grows in Samoa and healers have used its bark to treat hepatitis. Now, the mamala tree compound has attracted the attention of scientists at Stanford University. There, researchers have developed a synthetic form of prostratin that is supposedly 100 times more potent than the natural compound.
The new version of prostratin is performing well in laboratory tests—showing it has the capability to both prevent HIV from infecting cells and stop the re-emergence of the dormant version of the virus. The researchers describe prostratin’s ability to eradicate HIV in this way: it seeks out places in the cells of the body where the HIV virus is hiding and then “flushes” the virus out.
Normally, an AIDS patient will be prescribed antivirals to deal with all the active virus agents. These antiviral meds can do nothing about shutting down the dormant viruses that are so typical of AIDS and which reappear to cause havoc. The synthesized prostratin seems to be the one compound so far that can find these hidden viral agents, and force them out into the open where the antivirals can then kill them off.
This is an exciting development in the search for a cure for AIDS. We’ll all have to stay tuned to see what happens next.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“Translating Nature’s Library Yields Drug Leads for Aids, Cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease,” Science Daily web site, Sept. 9, 2013, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909162007.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_health+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+News+–+Top+Health%29, last accessed Sept. 12, 2013.
“Prostratin: A Potential Cure Strategy,” Aids Research Alliance web site; http://aidsresearch.org/cure-research/prostratin/, last accessed Sept. 11, 2013.