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New lab test shows possible HIV cure
Date: 2013-12-09 00:00:00

New findings presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America showed a significant breakthrough in HIV research. A team of scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine testing the efficacy of radioimmunotherapy on patients treated with antiretroviral therapy have successfully destroyed HIV-infected cells, giving new life to the hope of curing HIV infection.

Led by lead author Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., the team was looking at the shortcomings of highly active antiretroviral therapy when it came to curing HIV. While HAART succeeded in suppressing the replication and spread of the virus, it failed to completely eradicate the cells. Scientists believe that leftover infected cells remained in the body after treatment, preventing a permanent cure.

"In an HIV patient on HAART, drugs suppress viral replication, which means they keep the number of viral particles in a patient's bloodstream very low. However, HAART cannot kill the HIV-infected cells," explained Dadachova, professor of radiology, microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

During their study, the researchers carried out blood testing using RIT on samples from HIV patients who were previously treated with HAART. Previously used to treat cancer, RIT uses cloned cells to determine and counteract antigens that cause an immune response in the body. Once injected into the patient's bloodstream, the cloned cells travel to the targeted infected cells where the radiation therapy is applied.

"In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation. When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively," continued Dadachova.

Conducting their lab tests using collaborative therapy, the team discovered that RIT reduced the blood samples' levels of HIV infection to undetectable numbers.

"The elimination of HIV-infected cells with RIT was profound and specific," Dadachova affirmed.

Moving forward, their next step is clinical trials with HIV patients using the combination of RIT and HAART treatments.

Treatment of the brain and nervous system... Full Story

Cases of STDs in South Dakota on the rise
Date: 2013-12-11 00:00:00

A report released this month noted that the number of sexually transmitted disease cases in South Dakota has risen from the median average of the last five years. Published by the state's Department of Health, the results detailed the increase in cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and chlamydia.

According to the findings, HIV and chlamydia rose the least, with instances for both in the neighborhood of 22 and 25 percent increases, respectively. However, it was gonorrhea and syphilis that saw the biggest spike in cases, as their numbers were up by 76 percent and 1,050 percent, respectively.

Many STDs can go untreated, as they do not display noticeable symptoms. For instance, those infected with HIV would display symptoms equivalent to that of a flu or common cold. Because of this, these diseases are not detected unless specifically tested for.

"Sometimes you'll never know. It's simply found by screening and that's the scary part," said Melissa Shefl, a physician's assistant at the Sanford Health Vermillion Clinic in South Dakota.

"The majority of the people we see are 15- to 24-year-olds, and that is your student as far as high school student to a college student," added registered nurse Joan Beach, a member of the Family Planning department at Vermillion.

In order to spread HIV awareness on college campuses, Planned Parenthood and the Sanford Health Clinic work together throughout the year, teaching the importance of practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly for STDs.

Facts about STDs in America... Full Story

Monkey vaccine study may advance HIV vaccine research
Date: 2013-12-18 00:00:00

Following a vaccine study to determine if monkeys could be protected against contracting simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, the animal equivalent to HIV, researchers have uncovered fresh insight into HIV vaccine research. The mechanism that prompts protection from the disease may prove to be comparable in treatment for humans.

To identify the process of protection from SIV, the research team examined amino acid sequences that were viral and the monkeys' immune system responses. Their goal was to determine measures of immune responses in the animals that predict protection from SIV. The results showed that antibodies that attacked the virus were sufficient in prevention of the disease.

Utilizing the results of their study, team leaders Mario Roederer, Ph.D., and John Mascola, M.D., discovered that both HIV and SIV used similar methods to escape the immune system. The viral spikes that were resistant to neutralization in SIV tended to cause infection. To combat this resistance, the scientists administered new amino acid sequences that changed the resistant spikes to sensitive ones, thus altering their composition and neutralizing infectious cells. Lab tests conducted on viral HIV cells had a similar effect. According to Mascola and Roederer, the reasons for the success or failure of future vaccine trials in human HIV will be more apparent if scientists take their amino acid research into consideration and work to decrease neutralization resistance in infectious cells.

HIV vaccine research... Full Story

Spike in cases of STDs in Oregon county
Date: 2013-12-23 00:00:00

A county in Oregon is experiencing an increase in cases of sexually transmitted diseases, with both gonorrhea and syphilis leading all other cases by a significant margin. Public health officials in Lane County worry about the prevalence and are asking doctors and residents to be more vigilant in prevention and reporting.

According to Disease Surveillance Data from the state's Public Health Department, Oregon has seen a large increase in the number of reported syphilis cases over the last six years, while gonorrhea has remained at stable numbers in the same amount of time. However, by the end of November 2013, Lane County had more than 200 reported cases of gonorrhea, a 60 percent increase from 2012. While the number of syphilis cases is relatively small at 23, the previous pattern in the area was one or two cases per year.

"Occasionally, if you look over a 10-year period, we do have little outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases. This one is lasting longer than we want, and it's significantly higher than we want, so it's concerning," said Paul Luedtke, Lane County Public Health Officer.

While Luedtke places blame on a few different trends, the economic recession can take a large portion of it. The unemployment rate in the area rose above 10 percent, leaving many of the county's citizens without access to affordable health care. This can have many negative implications when it comes to STD testing due to a lack of diagnoses and reporting. In order to curb this concern, Lane County restarted the practice of clinics open once a week to see patients with STDs.

Additionally, Luedtke would also like physicians to research deeper into diagnoses and treatments of various STDs, specifically gonorrhea and syphilis. The previously recommended dosage for treating gonorrhea was 125 milligrams of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, however, the number is now 250 mg, as the bacteria developed a stronger resistance to the drug.

The use of ceftriaxone... Full Story

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