New York: The researchers from California Institute of Technology have discovered a new antibody that can make it easier to detect and neutralise HIV virus in an infected patient.
Proteins called broadly neutralising antibodies (bNAbs) are a promising key to prevent infection by HIV — the virus that causes AIDS.
The process of HIV infection begins when the virus comes in contact with human immune cells called T cells that carry a particular protein called CD4 on their surface. Broadly neutralising antibodies have been found in blood samples from some HIV patients whose immune systems can naturally control the infection.
The newly-discovered antibodies may protect a patient’s healthy cells by recognising this protein present on the surface of all HIV strains and inhibiting, or neutralising, the effects of the virus.
“It is actually an advantage if the antibody can recognise different forms,” said Louise Scharf, a postdoctoral scholar.
A potential medical application of this antibody is in combination therapies in which a patient is given a cocktail of several antibodies that work in different ways to fight off the virus as it rapidly changes and evolves.
New York, September 20, 2017: People living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy, but smoke tobacco cigarettes are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.
The findings showed that overall people with HIV who take antiviral medicines, but who also smoke are six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.
“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“Lung cancer is now one of the leading killers of people with HIV, but most of these deaths can be prevented,” added Rochelle Walensky, Professor at Harvard Medical School.
Among men who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 23 per cent of moderate smokers and 19 per cent of light smokers.
For women who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 21 per cent of moderate smokers and 17 per cent of light smokers.
“The data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programmes should be integrated into HIV care just like antiviral therapy,” Reddy said in the paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
However, among those who managed to quit smoking at age 40, only about six per cent die of lung cancer.
“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” suggested Travis Baggett, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.
AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency
The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October
About 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year
South Africa, July 20, 2017: For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.
AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries. Further to counter the AIDS epidemic, people are also looking for HIV home tests so that medications related to HIV can be started in the early stages.
Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.
“When you think about the money that’s been spent on AIDS, it could have been better,” said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London.
She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries.
“The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down,” Harman said, warning that countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own.
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The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October.
According to the report, about 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year.
UNAIDS also said there were about 36.7 million people with HIV in 2016, up slightly from 36.1 million the year before.
In the report’s introduction, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS’ executive director, said more and more countries are starting treatment as early as possible, in line with scientific findings that the approach keeps people healthy and helps prevent new infections. Studies show that people whose virus is under control are far less likely to pass it on to an uninfected sex partner.
“Our quest to end AIDS has only just begun,” he wrote.
The report notes that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies. It also said five hard-hit African countries now provide lifelong AIDS drugs to 95 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding women with the virus.
“For more than 35 years, the world has grappled with an AIDS epidemic that has claimed an estimated 35 million lives,” the report said. “Today, the United Nations General Assembly has a shared vision to consign AIDS to the history books.” The death toll from AIDS has dropped dramatically in recent years as the wide availability of affordable, life-saving drugs has made the illness a manageable disease.
But Harman said that “Ending AIDS” — the report’s title — was unrealistic.
“I can see why they do it, because it’s bold and no one would ever disagree with the idea of ending AIDS, but I think we should be pragmatic,” she said. “I don’t think we will ever eliminate AIDS so it’s possible this will give people the wrong idea.” (VOA)
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New York, May 30, 2017: American researchers, including one of Indian origin, have developed a test that is sensitive enough to detect “hidden” HIV and yet is faster, less labour-intensive and less expensive than the current “gold standard” test.
HIV virus has a knack for lying dormant in immune cells at levels undetectable to all but the most expensive and time-consuming tests.
“Globally there are substantial efforts to cure people of HIV by finding ways to eradicate this latent reservoir of virus that stubbornly persists in patients, despite our best therapies,” said senior author Phalguni Gupta, Professor at University of Pittsburgh in the US.
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“But those efforts aren’t going to progress if we don’t have tests that are sensitive and practical enough to tell doctors if someone is truly cured,” Gupta said.
HIV spreads by infecting CD4+ T cells, which are a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in protecting the body from infection.
Once HIV therapy is working, it becomes critical to determine if the HIV DNA being detected by a test could actually create more virus and cause the person to relapse if therapy is stopped.
Therefore, the test must be able to show that the virus it detects can replicate — typically by growing the virus from the sample.
To date, the best test available to do this is called a “quantitative viral outgrowth assay,” or Q-VOA.
The new test that Gupta’s team developed is faster, less labour intensive, and less expensive, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Called TZA, it works by detecting a gene that is turned on only when replicating HIV is present, thereby flagging the virus for technicians to quantify.
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It also requires a much smaller volume of blood, the study said.
“Using this test, we demonstrated that asymptomatic patients on antiretroviral therapy carry a much larger HIV reservoir than previous estimates — as much as 70 times what the Q-VOA test was detecting,” Gupta said. (IANS)