A Promising Compound That Could Stop HIV AIDS. Why Is It Not Being Supported?
In chapter 18 of a book by Stefano Bertozzi referenced by famous health economist Robert H. Topel in his article in the Journal of Political Economy, several insightful comments about HIV research funding and needs for prevention in the face of a rapidly increasing HIV infection rate are highlighted. The points made by Bertozzi et all about the lack of funding for research into preventive treatments for HIV are directly applicable to the difficulties I am facing obtaining funding and support from for a cheap sugar compound called cyclodextrin that has great potential to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Even though the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Gates Foundation are funneling a great deal of money into AIDS research, introduction of ameliorative therapy projects based on simple and available non toxic compounds such as hydroxypropyl beta cyclodextrin have not gotten past the initial screener. Why is further research into this simple sugar compound being held back?
Bertozzi et al attribute such resistance to compounds like cyclodextrin to the perception that preventive research is viewed as “less innovative scientifically” and “typically less experimental” by funding organizations. They suggest earmarking such ameliorative therapy approaches to redress this imbalance. The ameliorative therapy approach with hydroxypropel beta cyclodextrin also addresses the cited need for well-defined control or comparison groups necessary to measure the effectiveness of this preventive therapy.
It’s also interesting that a ready-to-use cheap formulation of cyclodextrin that would cost 10 cents per dose to deploy into Africa (!) and simply needs quick re-packaging doesn’t interest the funding organizations or the NIH. It would seem that immediate relief for people and saving lives is far less exciting than the thought of basic research and making money. It is hard to believe that a compound promising a stop to the method of transmission responsible for 80% of the HIV infections around the world does not create a compelling reason for funding and testing.
It would only cost $500,000 dollars to test cyclodextrin, the cost of caring for approximately one AIDS patient over their lifetime. Surely Mr. Gates could direct $500,000 dollars at this sugar compound to see if it works before spending millions on something less effective? Finally, there is money in cyclodextrin and very smart people are researching it.
The ability for HIV AIDS to assemble in the human body is directly tied to the Niemann Pick Type C cholesterol gene on Chromosome 18, one of the most important genes in the body (this gene is now tied to obesity!). And look what hydroxy propel beta cyclodextrin is doing for my 5 year old twins, Addi and Cassi, who suffer from one of the worst cholesterol diseases on the planet.