Archive for the ‘Cure Watch’ Category

AIDS Cure Advance

Researchers fully ‘delete’ HIV from human cells for the first time

So far, HIV has eluded a cure because it installs its genome into human DNA so insidiously that it’s impossible for our immune system to clear it out. While current treatments are effective, a lifetime of toxic drugs is required to prevent its recurrence. But researchers from Temple University may have figured out a way to permanently excise it using a highly-engineered HIV “editor.”

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A radioactive smart bomb might help mop up the last bits of AIDS virus hiding out in a patient’s body, even getting into the brain, researchers reported Tuesday.

The approach is part of a new effort to try to cure AIDS. To read full story CLICK HERE

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Possible AIDS Cure

A renowned chemist discusses prostratin, a powerful drug candidate made from the bark of a Samoan tree.

More than a of a quarter century since the world began to buzz about eradicating AIDS with the bark of a tree, a cure could be less than two years away.

Chemist Paul Wender of Stanford University has earned global acclaim working toward that goal, along with AIDS researchers Paul Cox and Dr. Stephen Brown. Wender, who spoke today before the 246th gathering of the American Chemical Society in Indianapolis, told Healthline that he believes AIDS medicine for humans, made from the bark of the Samoan mamala tree, could be available in 18 to 24 months.

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April 29, 2013

In the latest of a string of major setbacks in the search for an HIV vaccine, researchers have shuttered a trial after the experimental vaccine failed to both prevent HIV transmission and to reduce viral load in those who contracted the virus, the Los Angeles Times reports. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ordered all sites to cease immunizations after an independent review board ascertained that more people receiving the vaccine became infected with HIV than those receiving the placebo—although this difference was not statistically significant and may have been a result of chance.

Called HVTN 505, the Phase IIb study was conducted by the NIAID-supported HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). It began in 2009 and enrolled 2,504 men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgendered people who have sex with men in 21 sites in 19 U.S. cities. The vaccine built on the moderate success of the a vaccine called RV-144 that reduced infection rates among heterosexuals in Thailand by 30 percent, but which was shut down in 2009 because its protection rate was still not high enough. The vaccine was designed to induce an immune response against all three subtypes of the virus.

Among the 1,250 participants who received the experimental vaccine in the latest trial, 41 became HIV positive during the study, while among the 1,244 receiving the placebo, 30 participants contracted the virus. During the first 28 weeks of the study, 23 participants became infected with HIV, including 15 who received the vaccine and nine who received the placebo. The NIAID stated in a release that further analysis is needed to determine if the increased proportion of infections in the active agent group were a result of chance.

The vaccine also failed to reduce the viral load of those who became HIV positive during the trial.

In a release statement, NIAID asserted that it “remains committed to the pursuit of a highly effective, preventive HIV vaccine as part of a multifaceted HIV prevention research program.”

To read the AIDSMeds article CLICK HERE

To read the Los Angeles Times story, click here.

To read the NIAID release, click here.

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MONDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) — Danish scientists testing a novel HIV treatment in human trials contend that they’re confident their strategy will result in a cure for the AIDS-causing virus, according to news reports.

The technique — already tested successfully in lab experiments — involves freeing the HIV virus from DNA cells, where it collects in “reservoirs,” and bringing it to the surface of the cells, the Telegraph in Great Britain reported. Once the virus has surfaced, it can be permanently destroyed by a “vaccine” that primes the body’s natural immune system, the researchers said.

“I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV,” said Dr. Ole Sogaard, a senior researcher at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, according to the news report. So far the clinical trials are “promising,” he said.

Fifteen patients are currently taking part in the trials, and if they are found to have successfully been cured of HIV, the “cure” will be tested on a wider scale, the Telegraph reported.

“The challenge will be getting the patients’ immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems,” Sogaard said, the newspaper reported.

Sogaard said a “cure” is different than a preventative vaccine. That means continued awareness of unsafe behaviors — such as avoiding unprotected sex or sharing needles for intravenous drug use — is still the key to combating HIV.

If the Danish researchers are successful, it would obviously represent a huge step in the battle against HIV.

A large study of an experimental HIV vaccine was halted recently because the shots weren’t preventing infection, the U.S. National Institutes of Health said last week.

The clinical trial included about 2,500 people, mostly gay men, in 19 cities. Half of the participants were given the vaccine developed by the NIH and half received placebo shots. A safety review found that slightly more people who had received the vaccine later became infected with HIV. The reasons for this aren’t clear.

While the vaccinations are being stopped, the NIH said it will continue to track the study participants’ health, the Associated Press reported.

Numerous attempts to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine have failed.

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14 French adults treated within two months of infection  maintain undetectable virus levels after stopping antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.

Unlike the “sterilizing cure,” in which the body would be cleared of all HIV, in a functional cure, the body can control HIV without the help of meds.

As such, there is still virus in all members of the French group, although it is only detectable with highly sensitive tests.

All 10 men and four women who achieved the functional cure were treated during primary (also known as “acute”) infection and then remained on ARVs for between 1 and 7.6 years; the median length was 36.5 months. The individuals terminated treatment for various reasons.

The group has remained off ARVs for between 4 and 9.6 years.

Eleven of them maintain viral loads below 40, and three of them below five copies. Standard viral load tests reach an undetectable reading below a level of 50, yet more sensitive single-copy assays can detect lower levels.

While these findings won’t lead to immediate practical implications for HIV treatment, the researchers argue they are a proof of concept that there are circumstances in which the immune system can control the virus.

To read full article in POZ Magazine CLICK HERE


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Baby cured of HIV

Newborn baby feet in hospitalA baby born with the virus that causes AIDS appears to have been cured, scientists announced Sunday, describing the case of a child from Mississippi who’s now 2 1/2 and has been off medication for about a year with no signs of infection.

There’s no guarantee the child will remain healthy, although sophisticated testing uncovered just traces of the virus’ genetic material still lingering. If so, it would mark only the world’s second reported cure.

A doctor gave this baby faster and stronger treatment than is usual, starting a three-drug infusion within 30 hours of birth. That was before tests confirmed the infant was infected and not just at risk from a mother whose HIV wasn’t diagnosed until she was in labor.

“I just felt like this baby was at higher-than-normal risk, and deserved our best shot,” Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi, said in an interview.

That fast action apparently knocked out HIV in the baby’s blood before it could form hideouts in the body. Those so-called reservoirs of dormant cells usually rapidly reinfect anyone who stops medication, said Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. She led the investigation that deemed the child “functionally cured,” meaning in long-term remission even if all traces of the virus haven’t been completely eradicated.

Next, Persaud’s team is planning a study to try to prove that, with more aggressive treatment of other high-risk babies. “Maybe we’ll be able to block this reservoir seeding,” Persaud said.

to read full story CLICK HERE

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