Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers has found.
One of the main mysteries confounding development of an HIV vaccine is why some people infected with the virus make the desired antibodies after several years, but a vaccine can’t seem to induce the same response.
The development of antiretroviral therapy, a combination of drugs that slows the replication of HIV in the body, has transformed the treatment of this infection. What was once a certain death sentence is now a chronic condition that people can live with for decades. But this therapy has drawbacks. There are side effects, including kidney problems, decreased bone density, and gastrointestinal problems. And if a person discontinues his or her treatment, even missing a few doses, the level of the virus in the body is able to rebound quickly.
Nearly half of HIV infected patients suffer from impaired neurocognitive function. The HIV protein transactivator of transcription (Tat) is an important contributor to HIV neuropathogenesis because it is a potent neurotoxin that continues to be produced despite treatment with antiretroviral therapy.
Nearly 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. When the virus destroys so many immune cells that the body can’t fight off infection, AIDS will develop. The disease took the lives of more than a million people last year.
Proteins called broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) are a promising key to the prevention of infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. bNAbs have been found in blood samples from some HIV patients whose immune systems can naturally control the infection. These antibodies may protect a patient’s healthy cells by recognizing a protein called the envelope spike, present on the surface of all HIV strains and inhibiting, or neutralizing, the effects of the virus. Now Caltech researchers have discovered that one particular bNAb may be able to recognize this signature protein, even as it takes on different conformations during infection–making it easier to detect and neutralize the viruses in an infected patient.
Researchers have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus’s direct effect on the host’s immune cells, but rather through the cells’ lethal influence on one another. HIV can either be spread through free-floating virus that directly infect the host immune cells or an infected cell can pass the virus to an uninfected cell.
Disease-causing viruses engage their hosts in ongoing arms races: positive selection for antiviral genes increases host fitness and survival, and viruses in turn select for mutations that counteract the antiviral host factors. Studying such adaptive mutations can provide insights into the distant history of host-virus interactions. A study of antiviral gene sequences in African monkeys suggests that lentiviruses closely related to HIV have infected primates in Africa as far back as 16 million years.
Findings from a pair of new studies could speed up the development of a universally accurate diagnostic test for human herpes simplex viruses (HSV), according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The work may also lead to the development of a vaccine that protects against the virus.
While there is no cure for HIV, a select few known as HIV controllers can literally live with it. Over the years work has been done trying to figure out what makes these individuals so special and it has helped researchers in the fight against HIV. While we are still searching for a vaccine, researchers have now found that a single infusion of an experimental anti-HIV antibody called 3BNC117 resulted in significantly decreased HIV levels that persisted for as long as 28 days in HIV-infected individuals, according to Phase 1 clinical trial findings.
We may just have found a missing link in the fight towards an HIV vaccine. No, this is not an over-hyped headline, in a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of an unconventional vaccine.
Antibiotics are for infections, vaccines are for viruses, and unfortunately both bacteria AND viruses mutate. So when someone has AIDS for example it is hard to fight since a vaccine would be hard to produce given how rapidly it evolves. Well now researchers may be one step closer to solving the problem since they have cracked a code that governs infections by a major group of viruses which includes the common cold and polio.
Despite what conspiracy theorists say, there is no cure for HIV. Not that people aren’t feverously working hard to find one, it is just really hard to do. To illustrate that point researchers have found that vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been seen in more than one vaccine clinical trial.
The fight against HIV is ongoing and despite our rapid progression against the disease we still lack a cure or even adequate treatment for people infected. However, new research suggests that cloaking immune cells with antibodies that block T cell trafficking to the gut can substantially reduce the risk of viral transmission, at least in a non-human primate model of HIV infection. If it works out, this could help slow down the spread of HIV and give people a better shot at a normal life.
Let’s face it, a cure for HIV probably won’t be coming around for awhile. That slippery little virus manages to avoid everything we throw at it. Well researchers at Massachusetts General (MGH) and Boston Children’s hospitals (BCH) tried to take another crack at the problem. For the first time they have used a relatively new gene-editing technique to create what could prove to be an effective technique for blocking HIV from invading and destroying patients’ immune systems.
HIV is hard to get rid of,not because it primarily resides in the blood, but because of where it hides when antiretrovirals drop HIV levels. So the real question is where does HIV hide? Unfortunately those antiretroviral drugs can usually control the virus, but can’t completely eliminate it. So any strategy to eradicate HIV from the body has to take into account not only the main group of immune cells the virus targets, called CD4 or helper T cells, but other infected cells as well.
There have been a lot of theories on where HIV came from, anywhere from the mundane, it spread from other animals. To the down right crazy, the government created it to wipe out homosexuals. Well bad news for conspiracy theorists, a new study suggests that the HIV pandemic with us today is almost certain to have begun its global spread from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
With the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (or cART) during the mid-90s, the life expectancy of HIV patients has significantly improved. An unfortunate side effect of this is that long-term complications are becoming more relevant: almost every second HIV patient is affected by neurocognitive disorders, which can lead to dementia. It has not as yet been fully understood how these disorders occur, but new research is shining a light on the culprit.
We’ve got even more news for the HIV cure front. Yesterday we talked about broadly neutralizing antibodies, today we are going to be touching on that yet again,so if you missed it, you can read more about that here. Now, although HIV can now be effectively suppressed using anti-retroviral drugs, it still comes surging back the moment the flow of drugs is stopped. We sadly saw this delayed response in an infant that was thought to be effectively “cured” of HIV. It is unfortunate, but latent reservoirs of HIV-infected cells, invisible to the body’s immune system and unreachable by pharmaceuticals, ensure that the infection will rebound after therapy is terminated. This is a big reason that, even when the viral load drops below detection, you still need constant check ups and continuous anti-retrovirals.
The war on HIV, that tricky little guy has avoided every thing we could throw at it in a broad sense. Sure a few people here and there get lucky, but we have yet to actually make any sort of we’re going to kick your ass headway [don’t worry it’s the technical term for it]. That is hopefully going to change with a new scientific discovery that has enormous implications for HIV vaccine development. Researchers have uncovered novel properties of special HIV antibodies that promise to help eliminate HIV.
Don’t drink when you are pregnant, we all know that you aren’t supposed to do that. We also know you shouldn’t smoke, use drugs, and should talk to your Doctor about what medications you are taking while pregnant. So then what about when your husband is HIV positive and you want to get pregnant, are antiretrovirals safe to be using while a woman is pregnant? As it turns out, there is no real research on it, and the answer might be a little harder to get at.
The old saying it could always be worse might not sound like it would apply to HIV patients. Then again if you had HIV and hepatitis C, that would probably be worse. Apparently not only it is a “thing”, but it happens often because of how both spread [blood-borne]. A multicenter team of researchers report that in a phase III clinical trial, a combination drug therapy cures chronic hepatitis C in the majority of patients co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C.
Outsmarting something as “simple” as a virus doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. If only you could set it down to take the SAT’s or something. Unfortunately, in the body fighting HIV is more like guerrilla warfare, you take the big losses for a small win. This is no way to wage a war, but HIV is smart. It mutates and sidesteps anything we’ve been able to throw at it. We don’t have a cure, or a vaccine, but we do have scientists trying. However, new research has made a crucial jump to throwing a curveball at HIV and with it, a possible cure.
I hate doing sad posts, it’s not my thing. But this is a big deal so I thought I would share it, the child known as the “Mississippi baby” — whom for those of you who don’t know is an infant whom had been treated directly after birth and was cured of HIV which was reported as a case study of a prolonged remission of HIV infection in The New England Journal of Medicine last fall — now has detectable levels of HIV. Even after more than two years of not taking antiretroviral therapy without evidence of virus, according to the pediatric HIV specialist and researchers involved in the case.