Tuesday April 7, 2020

‘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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Any Level of Alcohol Consumption Can Weaken Bones of HIV Patients

Even little drinking can weaken bones of people with HIV

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Alcohol HIV
Any level of alcohol consumption for people living with HIV can raise the risk of developing osteoporosis. Pixabay

Any level of alcohol consumption for people living with HIV can weaken bones, raising the risk of osteoporosis, a new study has said. This is the latest health news.

The researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and School of Medicine (BUSM) did not find an amount of alcohol consumption that appeared ‘safe’ for bone metabolism in people living with HIV.

“As you get older, your ability to maintain adequate bone formation declines. These findings suggest that for people with HIV, alcohol may make this more difficult,” said Dr Theresa W. Kim, assistant professor at BUSM in a paper published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Low bone density is common among people living with HIV, even those who have successfully suppressed their viral loads with antiretroviral therapy.

The finding highlights an under-recognized circumstance in which people with HIV infection often find themselves.

Alcohol HIV
Low bone density is common among people living with HIV, even those who have successfully suppressed their viral loads with antiretroviral therapy. Pixabay

“Their viral load can be well controlled by efficacious medications while other health conditions and risks that commonly co-occur — like substance use and other medical conditions — are less well-addressed,” said Dr Richard Saitz, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH.

The researchers used data from 198 participants in the Boston ARCH cohort that included people living with HIV and current or past alcohol or drug use disorder.

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For the current study, the researchers analyzed participants’ blood samples, looking at biomarkers associated with bone metabolism (a life-long process of absorbing old bone tissue and creating new bone tissue) and a biomarker associated with recent alcohol consumption.

“If I were counseling a patient who was concerned about their bone health, besides checking vitamin D and recommending exercise, I would caution them about alcohol use,” said Kim. (IANS)