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February 9, 2013 by Wayne.
From an AskScience thread about a week back. Some pretty fascinating stuff in there.
- Rinderpest, a virus that infected cattle, was declared officially eradicated in 2010. (mortality rates of nearly 100%)
- The HPV vaccine doesn’t cure any disease, but it prevents most forms of cervical cancer and prevents 80% of genital wart types.
- The discovery that a significant number of gastric ulcers are due to helicobacter pylori and the infection (and consequent ulcers) can be cured with a short treatment of cheap antibacterials. H pylori is also responsible for a significant increase in the risk of stomach cancer.
- AIDS – not cured but we went from an unknown illness causing horrendous rare diseases and killing swathes of young people in their prime to a manageable chronic illness in a single generation. We’re now using engineered lentiviruses for research and any number of upcoming therapeutics. And there’s a number of promising vaccines (and possible cures) for HIV in the pipeline. Then, as a kicker, we harnessed the HIV virus to train T-cells to kill B-cell leukemia. There’s one small child alive today because of our employment of a virus we literally were not aware of fifty years ago.
- A somewhat overlooked one is Polio. Due to the efforts of Rotary International, polio has been eliminated in all but three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria I think), where medical workers are fought by anti-Western groups like the Taliban. Hopefully this gets resolved soon. …saw a speech by Bill Gates talking about the difficulties with administering the vaccine in Pakistan and Nigeria. Apparently, 7 volunteers were gunned down by militants for providing polio vaccines to children. In Nigeria, a myth that the vaccine causes infertility deters people from allowing it to be administered.
- Someone should mention Hepatitis C. Infection with Hep C isn’t always obvious to the person it is afflicting but it increases the likelihood of developing liver cancer by up to 20x. In fact, Hepatitis C may be a strong contributing factor in up to 25% of all liver cancer worldwide. Last February during my Pharmacology class in medical school, my professor said that many anti-viral drugs are coming through the pipe and will be available in the next 5 years. He even said that many pharma companies are ending their research into some classes of anti-virals because the news ones coming out are so promising and from their perspective, no more development needs to be done. It isn’t all sensationalist out there, keep your head up. // We’ve been stuck using some variant of interferon+ribavirin since the 80s, achieving only a 40% cure rate in genotype 1, and the side effects are hellish for a full year. Now we have protease inhibitors as well as specific ns5a and ns5b inhibitors that can reach up to 93% svr (cure if you will) of genotype 1.