Tuesday October 23, 2018

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
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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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An Experimental Vaccine to Treat Malaria

Scientists hope to get a better grasp on the system these vaccines employ, known as cellular immunity. Harnessing this system could help tackle hepatitis and HIV infection.

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Vaccines
A doctor assists people looking for treatment for malaria at a health center in San Felix, Venezuela. VOA

After decades of disappointment in efforts to develop a malaria vaccine, researchers are starting to see promise in a new approach.

While most vaccines trigger the body’s defenses to produce antibodies against a disease-causing germ, the new approach recruits an entirely different branch of the immune system.

If it works, it could open up a new route to attack other diseases, including hepatitis and possibly HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Nearly 450,000 people die of malaria each year, according to the World Health Organization. The parasites that cause the disease are increasingly becoming drug-resistant.

One successful vaccine has been developed so far, but it prevented only about a third of cases in a clinical study.

Experts have decided that’s better than nothing. The vaccine is being piloted in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Vaccine
Defensive cells killed liver cells that were infected with malaria parasites. (VOA)

New angle

Other scientists are trying a different angle of attack.

There are basically two ways to prevent germs from causing infections. “You either prevent them from getting into cells with antibodies, or you kill them inside the cells with T-cells,” said Stephen Hoffman, chief executive officer of Sanaria, a company working on one vaccine.

Most vaccines target the infection by building up antibodies. “If you need to kill them inside the cells with T-cells, we haven’t been overwhelmingly successful,” Hoffman said.

But Sanaria is one group seeing success by targeting malaria parasites inside infected liver cells, the first stop in the complex life cycle of the disease.

One key difference is how the vaccine is delivered. Hoffman’s group tried a typical route: injecting radiation-weakened parasites into patients’ skin or muscle. That didn’t work.

But it did work when injected directly into veins.

Vaccine
A public health worker takes a blood sample from a woman to be tested for malaria in Bo Rai district, Trat province, Thailand. VOA

The weakened parasites traveled to the liver, where they set off an immune reaction. Defensive cells killed liver cells that were infected with malaria parasites.

And the liver’s defenses were ready when faced with the real thing months later.

Most of that early work has been done in mice and macaques. When Hoffman and colleagues did something similar with a handful of human patients, most were protected against infection.

No waiting

Recruiting immune cells in the liver is especially effective because “we don’t need to wait until the immune system figures out that the parasite is in the liver and starts mounting an immune response, which can take days and sometimes weeks,” said Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.

“By then, the malaria’s gone. It only spends a week in the liver, and then it’s out in your blood causing disease.”

Vaccine
FILE – A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates in the street against mosquito breeding to prevent diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 15, 2016. VOA

Hill’s group just published a study in the journal Science Translational Medicinein which immune cells in the liver were triggered by using a protein from the parasite, rather than the entire organism.

Scientists hope to get a better grasp on the system these vaccines employ, known as cellular immunity. Harnessing this system could help tackle hepatitis and HIV infection.

Also Read: Alcohol Kills More People Than AIDS, Violence Combines: WHO

Drugs can control HIV infection but can’t eliminate it from the body.

“If somebody could get cellular immunity to work really well for vaccination, that would be transformative for a whole range of diseases,” Hill said. “Not just for infectious diseases that we want to prevent, but ones that we want to treat and we can’t treat today.” (VOA)