Wednesday January 23, 2019

New experimental HIV vaccine offers hope

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New York: A vaccine regimen that first primes the immune system and then boosts it to increase the response could ultimately prove to be the strategy for protecting against the global human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection, a new research suggests.

The study showed that the experimental “prime-boost” vaccine regimen provided complete protection to non-human primates from becoming infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a virus similar to HIV that infects the primates.

These results have now encouraged scientists to study the efficacy of the vaccine on a human study that is currently enrolling 400 volunteers in the US and Rwanda, with sites in South Africa, Uganda and Thailand opening soon.

“We are very encouraged by the results of this preclinical HIV vaccine study, and the findings lead to a clear path forward for evaluating this HIV vaccine candidate in humans,” said lead author Dan Barouch, professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

For the study, non-human primates (NHP) were first given an adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vectored vaccine to prime the immune system, and then a boost of a purified HIV envelope protein intended to enhance the immune system over time.

This approach is intended to increase both the magnitude of the immune response and the overall protection against subsequent viral challenge.

“Despite great progress in HIV treatments, HIV remains one of the greatest global health threats of our time with millions continuing to be infected each year. Our ultimate goal is to develop a vaccine that prevents HIV in the first place,” said Paul Stoffels from the Johnson & Johnson, which collaborated on the research.

The study was published in the online edition of the journal ‘Science’. (IANS)

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Protein Identified Enables New Drugs to Increase ‘Good Cholesterol’ Levels

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer. 

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ORP2 could offer a new strategic line of research and possibly succeed where the use of statins in this area hasn't, Yang noted.

Researchers have identified a protein, known as ORP2, responsible for transporting cholesterol inside cells that opens the way for new drugs to increase the body’s ‘good cholesterol’ levels.

ORP2 can increase the amount of cholesterol in cells, a process called cholesterol efflux. We think this pathway will be very important for the development of a drug to increase this good cholesterol, said Rob Yang, Professor from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Until now, drugs including statins have targeted bad cholesterol (LDL) by inhibiting its synthesis in the liver in an effort to mitigate the risk of heart disease and stroke.

However, while statins are effective at lowering LDL levels, they do little to increase the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and there is no other drug in use that can significantly boost the human body’s HDL levels.

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Researchers have identified a protein, known as ORP2, responsible for transporting cholesterol inside cells that opens the way for new drugs to increase the body’s ‘good cholesterol’ levels. . VOA

Up to 90 per cent of a cell’s cholesterol is found at the cell’s plasma membrane, said the study published in the journal Molecular Cell.

“Knowing the molecules that deliver cholesterol to the plasma membrane itself is a huge step forward. The transport of cholesterol to the plasma membrane is the key to the generation of HDL.

If such a drug could be developed, it would not replace statins, but would be used complementarily, with one drug used to reduce the bad cholesterol and the other to increase levels of the good, Yang suggested.

Also Read: Number of Students Opting for Science or Tech Are On Rise in India

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer.

Cancer, U.S.

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer.

The rampant and uncontrolled growth of cells that characterises cancer could be stopped in its tracks by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced.

ORP2 could offer a new strategic line of research and possibly succeed where the use of statins in this area hasn’t, Yang noted. (IANS)