May 22, 2015
This week we read a paper by leading researchers discussing the persistent HIV reservoir and our prospects toward a cure. We hear about "redesigned" antibodies that are four times stronger against HIV. And we look at how intertwining health problems may be exacerbating HIV. Plus, another study suggests that 85% adherence may be enough when taking newer "non-nuke" regimens. To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!
Despite scientists' best efforts, HIV reservoirs remain a major obstacle in getting to a cure. In a perspective paper published in Nature Immunology, Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and other researchers discuss the lessons learned from trying to eradicate the HIV reservoir, as well as current strategies aimed at eliminating or controlling HIV without treatment.
"By changing a single amino acid, we made it four times more potent, four times stronger, and it also started killing even more HIV strains than the parent antibody," said lead researcher James Crowe Jr., M.D., according to the study press release.
Structural and social inequities may be partially driving the high rates of HIV among young men who have sex with men (YMSM), according to a recent study conducted by New York University researchers.
"Our study findings show that socioeconomic status (SES) is key driver of HIV seroconversion; individuals who reported a lower perceived SES were more likely to seroconvert over the course of the study period. Moreover, in our cohort study, black YMSM were more likely to be of lower SES and were also more likely to seroconvert," said Perry Halkitis, Ph.D., and Farzana Kapadia, Ph.D., the study investigators.
A common bacterial community found in the genital tract among HIV-negative women in South Africa (but not common in women in developed countries) may lead to elevated levels of inflammatory proteins, which may increase the risk of HIV infection, according to a recent study.
Higher viral loads and poorer adherence among HIV-positive MSM on treatment is associated with intertwining health problems, or syndemics, according to a U.S. study published in the journal AIDS.
"These findings indicate that combinations of depression symptoms, polysubstance use and sexual risk behavior function as profound barriers to fully reaping the benefits of successful HIV care and that, as these conditions snowball, their impact on HIV outcomes is exacerbated," the researchers wrote.
Generally, experts agree that 95% treatment adherence is the number to aim for in order to ensure viral suppression. However, with some of the newer non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), 85% to 89% adherence may be enough, according to data from the U.S. Veteran Aging Cohort Study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
A new study estimates that each year in the U.S. there could potentially be organs from 356 HIV-positive deceased donors available for transplantation to other HIV-positive patients. However, the researchers note that there may be some concerns over the quality of kidneys, as a result of older donor age and comorbidities. On the other hand, livers from potential HIV-positive deceased donors are similar in quality to HIV-negative donors, although there is a higher prevalence of hepatitis C antibodies.
New research from the University of Southampton may shed some light on how hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicates. "Now we begin to understand at the molecular level how HCV hijacks cellular membranes to aid its replications, we can use this information to help identify novel sites for therapeutic intervention to target HCV and similar viruses," said Phil Williamson, M.A., co-author of the study.
Is there a development this week in HIV research that you think we missed? Send us a tip!
Warren Tong is the senior science editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.
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