I have read, with some curiosity, claims, by a Nigerian Professor of Veterinary Medicine of a cure for HIV. I assume those claims are based on his recent publication in the World Journal of AIDS (Original article here). I must congratulate Prof. Ezeibe on his publication. It is never easy for an academic to publish in an international journal.
This is an analysis of the veracity of his claim based on this publication. Please bear with me on this. However if you are impatient to review my conclusions and opinion on this please refer to the last section of this article. I am going to analyse this using various parameters as listed below. Please feel free to jump to which ever section you may be interested in:
- Ezeibe’s publication profile
- Quality of the Journal
- Analysis of the article
- My Conclusion
Prof. Ezeibe’s publication profile: Prof. Ezeibe has a good publication profile compared to other Nigerian academics. I searched on Pubmed and found 5 articles he has published (Pubmed is the main website used to check medical publications). Using google scholar I noticed that his articles were well cited with the highest citation of 25. That means up to 25 people considered his article good enough to reference them in their own publication.
Quality of the Journal: There are many ways to judge the quality of a journal. Many of them contentious. I am going to use the most commonly used method which is the citation index. The most widely used citation index is by Web of Science. World Journal of AIDS scored 0.00 on this index. On their website their list the Google Scholar citation index of 0.74. The top journal in AIDS research; AIDS has a score of 82. The top medical journal Nature has a citation index of 329. For such an important finding why didn’t Prof. Ezeibe publish in the best journals such as AIDS and Nature?
Analysis of the article: While going through the introduction of this article I am across this curious statement; “Molecules of Aluminium-Magnesium Silicate (AMS) are composed of platelets which have negative charges…………..” My understanding is that this AMS is a synthetic material. Platelets are a component of blood. I am not sure I understand this statement. Perhaps there is an alternate technical use of the term platelets that I do not know of. It would have been easier for an international journal to clarify this deviation from conventional use of the word platelets
An important aspect of conducting research on human beings is to make sure there are no dangerous side effects of the test drug. This justification for its lack of side effects in the third paragraph (reference no. 2) of the introduction is from the website of a mineral supplies company. Hardly the best medical source for information on the side effects profile of any medication.
In terms of methodology, it is essential that any study conducted on human beings have clear ethics committee approval before proceeding. There appears to be no ethics committee approval in this case. There appears to have been some attempt at obtaining informed consent but asking a patient to read some publication hardly qualifies as informed consent. This also raises some very serious problems I have with this study. Where were these patients sourced from? There seems to be no medical doctor involved in the design or execution of this study. How were the patients treated or monitored during this study? What sort of treatment did they get before starting this study? How do we know that previous treatment did not affect outcome? The design of the study is not ideal to draw any significant conclusion. It appears they compared patients before and after the study rather than the more appropriate comparison of patient with and without treatment. Curiously, there is so much variance in the viral load of their patients (See Table 1). The longer the treatment regimen the higher the viral load before treatment. No real explanation for this peculiar situation. Total number of patients used in this study: 10. There is no way you can get a statistically significant result from treating 10 patients only. Most clinical trial that draw this type of conclusion involve tens of thousands of patient.
In his discussion they state that during the course of the treatment patients experienced fever, dermatitis, multiple boils, joint pain and edema of the legs. Yet they conclude that there were no side effects of the drugs. How did they come to this conclusion? These may well be progression of AIDS but I am curious to know how they could come to that conclusion with comparing similar patients that did not have the treatment.
How exactly do they determine that the patients have been cured of their disease? Viral load clearance does not mean the patient is cured. Especially as these levels were measured right after treatment. Were the viral loads measure months or years after treatment?
My Conclusion: Professor Ezeibe has a good publication record. However his claim that he has discovered a cure for HIV is very suspect if it is based on this study. The study is published in a minor international journal, World Journal of AIDS, that appears not to be peer-reviewed. It is poorly designed. For a human study there no medical doctors involved and there is no detail about how the patients used were recruited. Based on this study alone there is no evidence that Aluminium-Magnesium Silicate (AMS) can cure HIV.