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Nigerian scientists discover potential HIV ‘cure’

By Onche Odeh 

ARVs, inset Ezeibe the lead scientist

ARVs, inset Ezeibe the lead scientist

A group of Nigerian scientists have found what could be a novel treatment for Human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) infections infection that may slash the current  cost of treatment.

The team of scientists, including graduate students and researchers from the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia state, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Nigeria have been able to show that synthetic Aluminum-magnesium silicate (AMS) has antiretroviral effects that could lay a perfect track for affordable and effective therapy for HIV.

Results of their work titled ‘Assessment of Antiretroviral Effects of a Synthetic Aluminum-magnesium Silicate’ published in the British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research (BJMMR 4(8): 1672-1679, 2014) and featured on SCIENCEDOMAIN international (www.sciencedomain.org), shows a significant reduction in the titres of the virus when HIV positive plasma was incubated with AMS.

The lead scientist, Professor Maduike Ezeibe, who is Head, Department of Veterinary Medicine at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike said this could provide an ultimate cure for the virus that has defiled so many scientific efforts to curtail it in the past.

Ezeibe reacted aluminium silicate with magnesium silicate to obtain the synthetic aluminum-magnesium silicate devoid of impurities.

Giving further details on AMS in a response to Daily Independent, he said, “Molecules of aluminum–magnesium silicate have platelets that possess both negative and positive electrical charges on their surfaces and their edges. HIV on the other hand is negatively charged. So the simple scientific understanding that opposite charges attracts ensures that the HIV virus binds to the AMS and is discharged from the body alongside.”

 

An existing medicine

“AMS is normally used as a stabilizing medicine that does not really have toxic effect on the patient, so it makes it a suitable agent for mopping up HIV virus from the body,” he said.

Writing in the journal, Ezeibe stated that “possession of both negative and positive electrical charges makes AMS a broad spectrum antiviral medicine.”

“AMS, if used in combination of selected antibiotics and immune stimulant may achieve a ‘cure’ for HIV,” the lead researcher of the work said.

On this note he wrote that, “When a significant number of particles of invading viruses adsorb onto its (AMS) molecules instead of onto their hosts cells, viral infections are terminated,” Ezeibe noted.

“Platelets of AMS molecules are also, only 0.96 nm thick. So, it is made of Nanoparticles, which makes it possible for them to pass physiological barriers. Therefore, AMS may get to and adsorb to HIV particles in any organ of infected persons.”

The author noted also that “Adsorbing out HIV means that millions of new virions usually released from each infected cell would be inhibited from establishing new infections in more cells,” adding, “Thus, HIV would be prevented from overwhelming the body immune systems and the Acquired Immunedeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) stage may be prevented. When the AIDS stage is prevented, the immune systems have advantage over HIV infections and clear viral particles that escape the AMS molecules,” in which case Ezeibe said a cure could be achieved.

 

Not one of those claims

This may be another HIV cure claim, but Ezeibe said this is quite unlike in previous cases.

“We have tested the medicine on Bird flu virus, Measles virus, Peste des petit virus of sheep and goats, canine parvovirus of dogs, Newcastle disease virus, infectious bursal disease virus, fowl pox virus and eggs drop syndrome virus of chicken, a process that was missing in previous claims,” he disclosed.

He said the animals were experimentally infected and treated with AMS in a students’ project that were examined at the department and faculty of veterinary medicine of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture before the university’s senate considered and approved them.

“The problem those who made claims of cure for HIV earlier had is that there were no routine in vitro (laboratory) tests for HIV titre. So they could not measure effects of their medicines. This is a problem all over the world,” he said.

In a description of the methodology used, the author wrote; “Plasma that tested positive to HIV and the AMS were mixed, on equal volume to weight basis, incubated one hour at room temperature and centrifuged for ten minutes at 3,000 revolutions per minute. These procedures were repeated on each supernatant. HIV titres of the two sets of supernatants and the titres in portions of the plasma, not incubated with the AMS were assessed by direct passive hemagglutination test.”

 

A reason to believe

Results of this, as published in the journal shows that initial incubating with it caused an increase in their viral titres, but a repeat incubation with the AMS reduced HIV titres in all the samples. The 99.60 per cent reduction of HIV titre in the specimen that had its HIV titre increased more than 4096, following the repeat incubation, is significant.

“It has been reported that when antimicrobial drugs achieve 95 per cent reduction of infection rate or above, the patient would be cured of the infection. So, the reduction of the virus titre by as much as 99.60 per cent suggests that the AMS may lead to effective treatment of HIV infections,” the researchers wrote.

Ezeibe is the scientist who disclosed that aluminium-magnesium silicate could be used to cure chickens of Bird flu when it broke out in Nigeria in 2008.

On why it took this long to ascertain the same effect with HIV, he said, “Testing the AMS on HIV delayed till now because electrical charges on HIV (not HIV antibodies) were not known until 2012. We could not until 2013, when we developed Direct Passive Hemagglutination test for HIV, which was published by the journal, Health 5(9) at www.scrirp.org.”

Ezeibe said he has sent a request for further verification to the Nigerian Academy of Science, having been investigated by the Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He, however, disclosed that he has been making frantic, but futile efforts to take this finding to the next stage that could ensure human clinical trials.

“It was concluded that the AMS has antiretroviral effects and could be an inexpensive antiretroviral therapy for regular treatment to reduce high rate of HIV infection among low income groups,” the team wrote.

Ezeibe said the reports of the antiviral effects of the medicine have been published by journals in Nigeria, Cameroun, America, India and United Kingdom.

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