Cheaply made and readily available, this strand of GMO rice is set to bring relief to those suffering from HIV.
According to the World Health Organization, 36,900,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2017, 25,700,000 of whom were in Africa. And while the spread of the virus has stalled since the epidemic of the 1980s, the question of treatment becomes an important one to answer, particularly in places where the right medicine is hard to come by.
Scientists from the US, UK, and Spain have developed a new strain of GMO rice to manage HIV symptoms. The outstanding results of the study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this week.
It works because the rice seeds produce three proteins which have neutralised HIV in vitro tests. The beauty is the ease of availability, as these seeds can be grown and applied as a topical cream, which counterbalances the virus in the exact same way as the antiretroviral medication.
Now, the cynic in all of us raising its bony hands at the point, asking about the price, accessibility and the chances of a large conglomerate of some type will buy the tech and bury it forever.
Well, when the crops are fully grown, the seeds can be produced on-site for almost no cost. Cereal seeds, the researchers explain, are some of the most suitable materials for producing medication because the infrastructure is already there.
As with anything worth our interest, the researchers have one more thing to scale – our own collective ignorance. They will have to prove that the genetically modified product poses no harm to those it hopes to save.