Wednesday November 21, 2018

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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Growth Hormone Deficiency May Also Hit Healthy Children

Since he started getting these injections two years ago, Spencer has grown about 15 centimeters.

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FILE - UNICEF staff measure a girl's height to see if she is stunted in a village health clinic of South Hamgyong province, North Korea. VOA

Most healthy children between the ages of four and 10 grow about five centimeters (two inches) a year. So, one family knew something was wrong when their son fit into the same clothes, season after season. Doctors were able to get him growing once again after testing for a growth hormone.

Eleven year-old Spencer Baehman is passionate about baseball.

“My goal is to play college baseball,” Spencer said.

There was only one problem. Spencer was the shortest player on his team. It didn’t stop him from playing, but the height difference was noticeable. And it made Spencer feel different.

“I want to be as tall as these kids,” Spencer said.

At first, Spencer’s parents thought their son was just small, but gradually, they suspected something was wrong. His mom, Stephanie Baehman, became worried.

“It really set in one year coming out of winter into spring when he got out his cleats for spring baseball and he put them on, and they fit. And they never should have fit. Those were from the spring prior,” Baehman said.

Spencer’s parents set up an appointment with Dr. Bert Bachrach, the chief of pediatric endocrinology at University of Missouri Health Care. Nurses measured Spencer’s height.

After careful testing, Dr. Bachrach determined a growth hormone deficiency was causing Spencer’s growth failure. Hormones are basically chemicals that send messages from one cell to another.

“Growth hormone just doesn’t affect your growth, it affects your muscle mass and fat distribution, so that affects your cholesterol, that affects you overall, it also affects your overall sense of wellbeing,” Bachrach said.

Young Kids learning
Young Kids learning. pixabay

Growth hormone insufficiency is a disorder involving the pituitary gland which is a small, pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. It’s this gland that produces human growth hormone, among others.

Also Read: Poor Aerobic Fitness Increases Risk of Diabetes in Kids

Every day, Spencer’s mother gives him a daily hormone injection. Since he started getting these injections two years ago, Spencer has grown about 15 centimeters (six inches). But just in case he doesn’t grow tall, he has a reminder written in each of his baseball caps.

“It says HDMH, which means height doesn’t measure heart,” Spencer read.

And heart is something Spencer has plenty of. (VOA)