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Elephants and egos

AIDS cure? Not yet

By Leigh E. Rich

Advances in science, despite the recent flurry over completion of part of the Human Genome Project, are slow and incremental. Good science, that is.

In the IJN Dollars and Sense Special Section this week, we portray Dr. Leland Shapiro, assistant professor of medicine at CU Health Sciences Center and a researcher who could be on the brink of a potential new AIDS therapeutic.

We commend Dr. Shapiro for being a good scientist—for being one who reiterates science’s gradual nature, preventing information from bending and twisting, as in the children’s verbal game of “operator.”

We commend him for being one who thinks about the ramifications of research before proceeding full steam ahead.

For being one who, as Michael Crichton reaffirmed in his book Jurassic Park, asks the question of “should we,” not just “could we.”

Although eager, thrilled and passionate about his laboratory work and discovery of the HIV-inhibiting properties of alpha-1-antitrypsin, a protein in the blood, Dr. Shapiro remains cautious—as any good scientist would.

He knows that only the future—along with his further efforts—will tell of his discovery’s outcomes. In fact, it could take five more years before a potential drug is developed and tested in humans.

“It’s a new way of understanding this virus,” he says. It could lead to possible treatments for HIV infection and AIDS.

To say any more than this—to forge ahead to unscientific conclusions at this juncture—would be to ignore the large, vicious dinosaur in the living room.  

Rich, L. E. (2001, January 26). Denver Art Museum, an institution of conscience. Intermountain Jewish News.

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