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Antiretroviral drugs for HIV Patient may take a toll on Brain, also lead to Forgetfulness, Confusion and Behavioural and Motor changes: Study

HIV drugs, lead to the production of the peptide beta amyloid, often associated with Alzheimer's disease

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FILE - A doctor draws blood from a man to check for HIV/AIDS. VOA
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New York, Dec 17, 2016: Antiretroviral drugs have been life-changing therapies for HIV patients, but they can have significant side effects including neuronal degeneration, which can be manifested as forgetfulness, confusion and behavioural and motor changes, says a study.

Certain protease inhibitors, among the most effective HIV drugs, lead to the production of the peptide beta amyloid, often associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the study found.

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“Protease inhibitors are very effective antiviral therapies, but they do have inherent toxicities,” said senior author on the study Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, Professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in the US.

The drugs prompt an increase in levels of the enzyme that cleaves the amyloid precursor protein, APP, to produce beta amyloid, which is responsible for the damage to neurons.

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Notably, inhibiting that enzyme, called BACE1, protected human and rodent brain cells from harm, suggesting that targetting this mechanism with a new drug could minimise damage to neurons in patients on antiretroviral therapies.

“Our findings may cause us to rethink how we’re using these drugs and even consider developing an adjunctive therapy to reduce some of these negative effects,” Jordan-Sciutto noted.

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To determine whether and how neuronal damage arises from drug treatment and to ascertain the enzyme BACE1’s role, the team investigated the effects of protease inhibitors in two animal models, then probed the mechanism of action in cells in culture.

The findings appeared in the American Journal of Pathology. (IANS)

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Individual Types of HPV Linked to HIV Infection

Previous study with female sex workers showed that the HPV vaccine still provided protection to high-risk groups

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HIV
Nearly 40 individual HPV types linked to HIV infection. Pixabay

Scientists have for the first time identified 37 individual types of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that are specifically linked to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

The findings showed that a person with any HPV type, more than one HPV type, or high-risk HPV are more likely to test positive for HIV.

“Although most studies have shown a general link between HPV and HIV co-infection, our findings illustrate the strong relationship between individual HPV types and HIV infection,” said lead author Brandon Brown, Associate Professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“Some HPV types are more linked to cancer and others to warts. This further illustrates the potential utility of HPV vaccine for men who have sex with men and trans women, not only for HPV prevention but also possibly for HIV prevention,” Brown added.

Brown explained that previous research has shown that HPV, in general, was linked to HIV infection, but his research team looked at infection with 37 HPV types and found that individual types are linked, “which is more specific than saying HPV is linked”.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, identified HPV types such as HPV16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 52, 58, linked to HIV.

For the study, the team investigated nearly 600 men who have sex with men, or MSM, and transgender women in Lima, Peru.

HIV
School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

Brown and his colleagues started with two groups, one with genital warts and one without, and followed participants over two years to see who contracted HIV.

Of the 571 participants who completed at least two study visits, 73 acquired HIV in two years — a 6 per cent HIV incidence rate.

Previous study with female sex workers showed that the HPV vaccine still provided protection to high-risk groups.

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Regarding prevention and treatment, Brown recommends the HPV vaccine, widely provided to everyone regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation before sexual debut, and for genital wart treatment.

“Even if the vaccine is not provided before sexual debut, there can be strong benefit if given at any time to prevent HPV-associated disease and also HIV,” he said.

“We know that HPV is the most common STI, and we know that HPV vaccine works to prevent chronic HPV infection. What we need now is to implement the vaccine in a better way. The availability in many other developing countries is low at best and absent at worst.” (IANS)

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