Thursday February 22, 2018

New drug compound may reduce HIV potency

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Researchers have discovered that supplementing existing antiretroviral therapy with a natural compound can reduce the potency of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thereby halting the progression of AIDS.

HIV-infected patients remain on antiretroviral therapy for life because the virus survives over the long-term in infected dormant cells. Interruption of current types of antiretroviral therapy results in a rebound of the virus and clinical progression to AIDS.

“OHIV_Virion-enur results highlight an alternative approach to current anti-HIV strategies,” said lead researcher Susana Valente, associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US.

In the study published in the journal mBio, the researchers have detailed that unlike other antiretroviral therapies, a natural compound called Cortistatin A reduces residual levels of virus from the HIV-infected dormant cells, establishing a near-permanent state of latency and greatly diminishing the virus’ capacity for reactivation.

“Prior treatment with Cortistatin A significantly inhibits and delays viral rebound in the absence of any drug,” Valente noted.

“Our results suggest current antiretroviral regimens could be supplemented with a Tat inhibitor such as Cortistatin A to achieve a functional HIV-1 cure, reducing levels of the virus and preventing reactivation from latent reservoirs,” Valente explained.

For the study, the researchers isolated cells from nine HIV-infected participants being treated with antiretroviral drugs.

They found that treatment with the natural molecule reduced viral reactivation by an average of 92.3 percent. (IANS)

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‘Epilepsy drug during pregnancy ups the oral cleft risk in babies’

The findings are based on data on more than one million live births over a period of 10 years in the US.

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Low doses of topiramate may also increase the risk of oral clefts but to a lesser extent. Wikimedia Commons
Low doses of topiramate may also increase the risk of oral clefts but to a lesser extent. Wikimedia Commons

The study, published in the journal Neurology, said the risk is particularly high when the drug is used in high doses. “Our results suggest that the increased risk of oral clefts is most pronounced in women taking higher doses of topiramate to treat epilepsy,” said study co-author Elisabetta Patorno of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, US.

“Low doses of topiramate may also increase the risk of oral clefts but to a lesser extent,” Patorno said. “We hope that this work gives important information to women and their clinicians as they determine the best course of treatment and options available to individuals,” Patorno added. The findings are based on data on more than one million live births over a period of 10 years in the US.

Epilepsy is likely due to the higher doses of topiramate when used for controlling seizures. Wikimedia Commons
Epilepsy is likely due to the higher doses of topiramate when used for controlling seizures. Wikimedia Commons

The team examined the risk of oral clefts including cleft palate or cleft lip among three groups infants born to women who had taken topiramate in their first trimester; infants born to women who had taken the drug lamotrigine (an unrelated drug used to treat bipolar disorder and epilepsy); and infants who had not been exposed to anti-epileptic medications in utero.

The researchers found that the risk of oral clefts was approximately three times higher for the topiramate group than for either the lamotrigine or the unexposed group.

“Our results suggest that women with epilepsy on topiramate have the highest relative risk of giving birth to a baby with cleft lip or cleft palate, likely due to the higher doses of topiramate when used for controlling seizures,” said corresponding author Sonia Hernandez-Diaz of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The best course may be to avoid prescribing high doses of topiramate to women of childbearing age unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks,” she added. IANS

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