Bill Gates has been incredibly active after he retired from Microsoft. With a huge fortune accumulated after years of high-tech entrepreneurship, the IT innovator decided to act towards reducing the world’s poverty by funding original ideas. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded numerous teams tackling transmittable diseases. Gates decided to even fund the best idea for a next generation condom that maintains the pleasure of the sexual act, while protecting participants from sharing deadly diseases.
HIV is one of the deadliest form of transmittable diseases. Now, Gates offered $25 million to a team of researchers from Oregon to help them take their research further. Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University said they plan to develop a cure that will do more than prevent future infections. They aim to develop a vaccine that will even cure the people already infected with HIV.
Gates chose the team of scientists wisely. The research and experiments performed so far on primates showed promising results, as HIV infection has been prevented.
“In effect, we helped better arm the hunters in the body to chase down and kill an elusive viral enemy,” lead researcher Louis Picker said earlier this year in the Nature journal. “And we’re quite confident that this vaccine approach can work exactly the same way against HIV in humans.”
The number of HIV infections declined over the last years. However, around 35 million people live with HIV all over the world. The rate of infection was 2.1 million last year alone. The advent of retroviral drugs contributed to a dramatic decrease of the death numbers, but 1.5 million HIV infected people died last year.
Even if the team received the large donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it does not mean that we should expect a working vaccine very soon. Just to start trials on human patients will require other five years of preparatory research.
Bill Gates believes that a cure to the deadly transmittable disease will be one of the most efficient ways to relieve African countries from poverty. A couple of Sub-Saharan countries have a very low life expectancy because of transmittable diseases such as malaria or produced by the HIV.
This is not the first time that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation award Picker’s team with funding. In 2012, the foundation gave the team other $8 million.