Friday October 20, 2017

‘Protein ERManI prevents HIV virus from replicating’

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New York: Researchers have discovered a protein that may slow the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thereby revealing a target for developing natural therapies against the deadly virus.

Picture credit: manipurupdate.com
Picture credit: manipurupdate.com

“In earlier studies, we knew that we could interfere with the spread of HIV-1, but we couldn’t identify the mechanism that was stopping the process,” said study co-author Yong-Hui Zheng, associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University in the US.

The researchers found that the protein ERManI prevents the HIV virus from replicating.

“We now know that ERManI is an essential key, and that it has the potential as a antiretroviral treatment,” Zheng noted.

Currently, there is no cure for HIV-1. Once patients have it, they have it for life. While there are antiretroviral therapies available, they can only prolong life, albeit dramatically, but they cannot cure the disease.

Current drug treatments have to be taken for a lifetime, which causes side effects and many other issues, Zheng said.

“We see a way to treat this disease by helping the body protect itself,” he noted.

While it could be decades before an ERManI-based treatment can be prescribed for HIV-1 patients, these results provide a strong path for future research involving human cells, and later, clinical tests.

The next steps will be to test if HIV resistance can be promoted by increasing ERManI levels, Zheng pointed out.

The findings were detailed in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

(With inputs from IANS)

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HIV Infected Smokers More likely to die of lung cancer than AIDS, Reveals Indian-origin Researcher

Smoking kills! A recent research reveals a vicious reality about the people infected with HIV, who loves to smoke, are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS.

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lung cancer
Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Pixabay

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.

ALSO READ: Cases of Glaucoma show a rising trend in India, can be caused by Smoking: Doctors

Besides reducing the risk of lung cancer, quitting will also decrease their risk of other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and emphysema, the researchers said. (IANS)

 

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To Counter AIDS Epidemic, Over Half of People With HIV Taking Drugs: UN

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FILE - A mother gets an antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, South Africa's largest public hospital, in Soweto, May 16, 2012. VOA
  • 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.

ALSO READ: Indian Origin Researcher part of team that developed a Test sensitive enough to detect “hidden” HIV

“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.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005. Click To Tweet

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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Indian Origin Researcher part of team that developed a Test sensitive enough to detect “hidden” HIV

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Indian Origin Researcher part of team that developed a Test sensitive enough to detect “hidden” HIV. VOA

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.

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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)