Rumor: Australian scientists have discovered a potential cure for AIDS

Nullbasic, a potent anti-HIV mutant, is said to halt devastating effects virus has on immune system

CONFIRMED: Method is set to be tested on HIV-infected mice this year, and clinical trials could occur within 10 years

According to several news outlets, and first reported by the Australian Times, scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research developed a form of gene therapy that could potentially prevent HIV from spreading throughout the body and instead turn the deadly virus into "a weapon against itself." (Read more accounts of the report here.)

Dr. David Harrich, who began studying the HIV virus in 1989, said the initial breakthrough in his research came in 2007. Harrich said the project began receiving funding from the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Research shortly after.

"With money running out, I had my PhD student try one more experiment in late 2007," Harrich said. "The experiment was to test if Nullbasic could render HIV non-infectious. The student came back and said it worked, so I told him to do it again and again and again. It works every time."

According to Avert, an international HIV and AIDS charity, the number of people living with HIV rose from 8 million in 1990 to 34 million at the end of 2010; 68 percent of all people infected live in sub-Saharan Africa. (Go here for the most up-to-date global statistics on HIV and AIDS.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS. Someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV every 9.5 minutes, according to AIDs.gov.

 

 

SOURCES: Australian Times, CDC, AIDS.gov, Avert

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