Cancer is a disease prevalent since ancient times. According to NHS “Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis.”
No Cure for this deadly disease
Chronic cancer is cancer that cannot be cured but that ongoing treatment, also called extended treatment, can control for months or years. Some doctors use the term “cured” when referring to cancer that doesn't come back within five years. But cancer can still come back after five years, so it's never truly cured. Currently, there's no true cure for cancer. But recent advances in medicine and technology are helping move us closer than ever to a cure.
Why there is no Cure?
According to Worldwide Cancer Research:
1. There will never be one single cure: All cancers are different; they look and behave like different diseases. Every cancer is unique so each one has to be looked into with a different perspective.
2. Myriads of mutations exist: Even in one type of cancer, the tumor behaves differently with a new set of mutations. As the tumor grows the mutation grows.
3. Treatments can eventually stop working: Due to ongoing mutation in the cancer cells, they become resistant to treatment.
4. Cancer cells are good at staying alive
Cancer can kill when it invades essential organs, like your liver, lungs, or brain, and stops them from functioning properly. These complications could be due to primary cancer that starts in an essential organ, such as brain cancer. Or it could be cancer that has metastasized from one area to another.
Enormous research is being done to arrive at a point where we can call us to have won the fight against this deadly disease. Scientists have yet to 'cure' cancer, but significant advancements have improved survival rates. Suffice here to understand that cancer is not just one disease, more than 200 different diseases are under this umbrella. More research for a cure is discovering more cancers, mutations, and the likely causes of cancers. It is a complex phenomenon.
AIDs – Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight infection and disease.
In the mid to late 1980s, the United States was gripped by what seemed like an uncontrollable fire. HIV and AIDS were ravaging communities at an unprecedented rate. During the ‘80s in the U.S. alone, more than 90% of those diagnosed with HIV ultimately passed away from complications related to the disease - all but guaranteeing a certain death for any person unlucky enough to contract the virus.
In 1987, the first antiretroviral drug (or ARV) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Over the next several years, research would show that strict adherence to ARVs would suppress the virus to the point where it would be undetectable in the blood of an HIV+ person, and in the following decades, mortality rates for people diagnosed with HIV in the United States would invert itself, so that only a small percentage of those diagnosed with HIV would ultimately succumb to complications from AIDS.
Growing resistance to current HIV drugs, a population boom in Sub-Saharan Africa, and insufficient public health resources are all poised to contribute to a second AIDS pandemic, according to published reports.
Already, the virus is nowhere near under control. Though the infection rate has declined 47 percent since its peak in 1996, last year 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV around the world, and 37 million people are currently living with it. About 1 million people die of AIDS every year, making it the fourth biggest killer in low-income countries.
Why no Vaccine?
According to Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, Director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:
“Simply put, it's the black box of the human immune system. HIV employs a shield technology, and the virus is constantly changing its shield to protect itself, but there are some key parts of the virus that it cannot shield, so that's the trick – to be able to target that.
To make a flu vaccine or a Zika vaccine or even an Ebola vaccine, the virus is a little bit more forthcoming with the target. In HIV, the virus does everything in its power to hide the target, so we're dealing with a well-adapted [adversary] that actively avoids neutralization. That's the scientific challenge we face.
On the vaccine side, we are currently performing, in collaboration with partners, two vaccine trials – HVTN702, which we talked about, and another one called 705. If either of those are highly successful, they would both require an additional phase 3 clinical trial before they could be licensed. This is an important but not final step. Then we would move into scale up to global vaccination. Those conversations have begun but they are not very far along and need additional attention.”
The development of a vaccine for HIV would save millions of lives. However, researchers haven’t yet discovered an effective vaccine for HIV. In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Virology found that an experimental vaccine prevented about 31 percent of new cases. Further research was stopped due to dangerous risks. In early 2013, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stopped a clinical trial that was testing injections of the HVTN 505 vaccine. Data from the trial indicated the vaccine didn’t prevent HIV transmission or reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. Research into vaccines is ongoing throughout the world. Every year there are discoveries.
What is COVID-19?
The disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known as coronavirus disease 2019 – or COVID-19.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is an unfortunate reminder that diseases don’t respect borders. In a matter of months, the virus has swept the globe, infecting millions of people in almost every country. The fear and uncertainty have disrupted financial markets and dominated the news cycles.
With vaccine approvals underway, Medical News Today spoke with medical experts about how coronavirus vaccines were rapidly made without compromising safety.
Researchers were not starting from scratch when they learned about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there are hundreds of coronaviruses — including four that can cause the common cold, as well as the coronaviruses that sparked the SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, epidemic in 2002 and the emergence of MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome, in 2012.
Dr. Eric J. Yager, an associate professor of microbiology at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Albany, NY, told MNT that scientists have been studying coronaviruses for over 50 years. This meant scientists had existing data on the structure, genome, and life cycle of this type of virus.
Dr. Yager explained, “Research on these viruses established the importance of the viral spike (S) protein in viral attachment, fusion, and entry, and identified the S proteins as a target for the development of antibody therapies and vaccines.” He continued: “Early efforts by scientists at Oxford University to create an adenovirus-based vaccine against MERS provided the necessary experimental experience and groundwork to develop an adenovirus vaccine for COVID-19.”
Dr. Yager said that thanks to advances in genomic sequencing, researchers successfully uncovered the viral sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in January 2020 — roughly 10 days after the first reported pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. The ability to fast-track research and clinical trials was a direct result of this worldwide cooperation.
Are these Vaccines Safe?
According to WHO “Large studies of 5 vaccine candidates efficacy and safety results, including these three (and for Moderna and AstraZeneca), have been publicly reported through press releases but only one (AstraZeneca) has published results in the peer-reviewed literature. We expect more such reports shortly. Additional candidates will likely be submitted to regulatory authorities for approval. There are many potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in development.
Once vaccines are demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, they must be approved by national regulators, manufactured to exacting standards, and distributed. WHO is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this process, including to facilitate equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the billions of people who will need them.”
According to WHO “It’s too early to know if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection. Additional research is needed to answer this question. However, it’s encouraging that available data suggest that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection – although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, and how long it lasts. Currently, there is no evidence that any existing vaccines will protect against COVID-19. However, scientists are studying whether some existing vaccines – such as the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which is used to prevent tuberculosis – are also effective for COVID-19. WHO will evaluate evidence from these studies when available.