What a fascinating world we live in. In the 1500s, people died from simple infections and never made it past the age of 35. As time progresses, science and medicine continue to make incredible discoveries about how to cure sickness and allow human beings to live longer, healthier lives. Unfortunately, the AIDS virus remains virtually unstoppable and claims lives at a very young age. Today, the first wave of human trials on a vaccine almost two decades in the making will start. Robert Gallo has been working on developing the vaccine for 15 years and announced the start of the trials. Gallo, responsible for the massive discovery in 1984 that HIV triggers the AIDS virus, believes that his team from The University of Maryland discovered the exact moment when HIV is vulnerable to detection. Upon entering the body, HIV immediately seeks out the CD4 receptor on white blood cells. Once claimed, the virus triggers mechanics in the body to locate the CD5 receptor. After these events happen, the body essentially turns on itself causing the immune system to shut down.
Gallo’s trials will begin with 60 volunteers. These volunteers are being tested to see the safety and reaction of the immune system to the virus. Gallo acknowledges the length of the project due to the sheer amount of necessary testing that took place on monkeys and coming up with funding to transform the vaccine into human form. Speaking to Science Mag, Gallo addressed the process:
“”Was anything a lack of courage?” he asked Science. “Sure. We wanted more and more answers before going into people.””
Regardless of whether or not the AIDS vaccine works, Gallo has done a tremendous service to the world for getting us closer to potentially curing the virus. Solving the disease does not happen overnight, and hopefully the patience and thoroughness of Gallo’s team will pay off.
(Thanks to Business Insider for story and quote.)