This week many international newspapers reported that a man may have been cured of AIDS. A number of health-related words can be learnt from these stories. Note that a cure is something that makes someone with an illness healthy again. It is pronounced /kju:r/.
Doctors in Germany say a patient appears to have been cured of HIV by a bone marrow transplant from a donor who had a genetic resistance to the virus.
A transplant (n.) is when something is transplanted (moved from one place or person to another), especially an operation in which a new organ is put into someone’s body.
The clinic said since the transplant was carried out 20 months ago, tests on the patient’s bone marrow, blood and other organ tissues have all been clear.
Bone marrow (n.) is soft fatty tissue in the centre of a bone.
The virus has infected 33 million people worldwide.
As Dr Huetter – who is a haematologist, not an HIV specialist – prepared to treat his leukaemia with a bone marrow transplant, he recalled that some people carried a genetic mutation that seemed to make them resistant to HIV infection.
To infect (v.) is to pass a disease to a person, animal or plant. A person, animal or plant having received the disease is infected (adj.), and is said to have an infection (n.). A disease that is able to infect is said to be infectious (adj.)
Infectious can also have a positive meaning, as in an ‘infectious laugh’ or ‘infectious enthusiasm’, describing something that has an effect on everyone who is present and makes them want to join in.
Roughly one in 1,000 Europeans and Americans have inherited the mutation from both parents, and Huetter set out to find one such person among donors that matched the patient’s marrow type. Out of a pool of 80 suitable donors, the 61st person tested carried the proper mutation.
Mutation (n.) is the way in which genes change and produce permanent differences. The verb is mutate.