December #87 : A Tempest in a T Cell - by Laura Whitehorn and Tim Murphy

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents

Baby Love

Fuzeon Fever

Artists With (out) a Cause

Wash 'n' Bear

Adoption Option

Make It a Date

Beijing Surprise

Apocalypse Now

Loan Shark

Fund Frisk

A Tempest in a T Cell

Slim Picks

Fat Skinny

Break Time

Straight Forward

Condoms Inc.

Steppin' Positive


Cinema Variety

Daddy's Dearest

Gift Rap

'Tis the Season

Publisher's Letter


In Vogue

Star Power

‘Tis the Season


Saving It

Getting Cheeky

Fix Is In?

Say What?

Cash Flown!

Full-Frontal Face

Wisdom Of The Ages


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

December 2002

A Tempest in a T Cell

by Laura Whitehorn and Tim Murphy

David Ho's big-news "breakthrough" sparks a research-rivals smackdown

When "eradication" star David Ho, MD, (a.k.a. Time's 1996 Man of the Year) announces a research "breakthrough," the media jumps -- and rival research giants get seriously steamed. Such was the stink after this fall's wonk-packed ICAAC (say it Ick! Ack!) confab, where Ho flew in for the day to announce that his Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center had ID'd alpha-defensins 1, 2 and 3 -- the secret natural proteins, said Ho and Co., that keep the 2 percent of HIVers known as long-term nonprogressors (LTNPs) from getting sick, even without meds. "Since 1986," said Ho, "when Jay Levy, MD, discovered that the CD8 cells of LTNPs release CD8 Antiviral Factor [CAF] to suppress HIV, the identity of CAF has remained a mystery. We showed that alpha-defensins are produced by stimulating the CD8 T cells of LTNPs and that they correlate with CAF." Someday they might even be made in a lab to keep HIVers from progressing -- though Ho was the first to admit that someday is far away.

No sooner had Ho's claim hogged headlines than a roster of research goliaths lined up to foul the finding of LTNP's much-coveted missing link, in a most unusual display of ill-dispute. "This is not it," Levy lobbed. "Our laboratory has never found defensins [that are] produced by CD8 cells." Robert Gallo, MD, boasted that his own lab would unveil a real CAF breakthrough "soon." Other naysayers offered that CAFs attack HIV after it enters the cell, but Ho's defensins apparently hit before; that the proteins may pack a puny anti-HIV punch; and that Ho's sample was a mere three LTNPs. (Even ever-diplomatic Bruce Walker, MD, allowed that "the results in larger numbers of patients might be different.")

Is the mudslinging a case of sour grapes over Ho, America's AIDS-research sweetheart? Or is it just desserts for what many perceive as Ho's overreaching? Neither scenario bodes well for HIVers awaiting a cure. Nor does this take by a longtime treatment insider: "It's infuriating that every time Aaron Diamond cranks out a press release, we're all supposed to go 'This must be it!' And if you name me, I'll kill you because my career will be over."

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.