Infectious Diseases

HIV in Liver Cells Found to Be Inactive, Narrowing Potential Treatment Targets

 In a proof-of-principle study, researchers at Johns Hopkins revealed that certain immune system cells found in the human liver, called liver macrophages, contain only inert HIV and aren’t likely to reproduce infection on their own in HIV-infected people on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is a regimen containing combinations of HIV-targeting drugs that prevents the growth of the virus but does not eradicate it. The report on the findings, published
Infectious Diseases

Patients with Rare Natural Ability to Suppress HIV Shed Light on Potential Functional Cure

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified two patients with HIV whose immune cells behave differently than others with the virus and actually appear to help control viral load even years after infection. Moreover, both patients carry large amounts of virus in infected cells, but show no viral load in blood tests. While based on small numbers, the data suggest that long-term viral remission might be possible for more people. A
Infectious Diseases

Molecular virologist fights influenza at the molecular level

Molecular virologist Chad Petit, Ph.D., uses basic science to fight influenza — through experiments at the atomic level. This includes a deadly poultry influenza virus in China called the H7N9 avian flu virus. Since 2013, H7N9 has infected 1,625 people, killing 623. While not highly contagious for humans, just three mutations could change that, turning H7N9 into the feared Disease X, the term health experts use for the next unknown
Infectious Diseases

FDA approves new drug to treat influenza

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) for the treatment of acute uncomplicated influenza (flu) in patients 12 years of age and older who have been symptomatic for no more than 48 hours. “This is the first new antiviral flu treatment with a novel mechanism of action approved by the FDA in nearly 20 years. With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many
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Cancer Drug and Antidepressants Provide Clues for Treating Fatal Brain-Eating Amoeba Infections

The amoeba Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm swimming pools, lakes and rivers. On rare occasions, the amoeba can infect a healthy person and cause severe primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a “brain-eating” disease that is almost always fatal. Other than trial-and-error with general antifungal medications, there are no treatments for the infection. Researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego have now identified
Infectious Diseases

Out-Of-Pocket Costs Put HIV Prevention Drug Out Of Reach For Many At Risk

Public health officials are expanding efforts to get the HIV prevention pill into the hands of those at risk, in a nationwide effort to curb infections. But the officials are hitting roadblocks — the drug’s price tag, which has surged in recent years, and changes in insurance coverage that put a heftier financial burden on patients. Since brand-name Truvada was approved for HIV prevention six years ago, its average wholesale
Infectious Diseases

Higher Doses of Rifampin Appear More Effective in Fighting TB Without Increasing Risk of Adverse Events

Higher daily doses of rifampin, a cornerstone of tuberculosis treatment, killed more TB bacteria in sputum cultures, and the higher doses did so without increasing the adverse effects of treatment, according to a randomized controlled trial published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In “Efficacy and Safety of High-Dose Rifampin in Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Gustavo E. Velásquez, MD, MPH, associate physician in
Infectious Diseases

Immune Cells That Create and Sustain Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Identified

These immune cells could become therapeutic targets to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In preclinical experiments, Laurie Harrington, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a subset of immune cells that create and sustain chronic inflammatory bowel disease. These cells could become potential therapeutic targets to ameliorate or cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Furthermore, if this subset of CD4 T cells plays a similar role
Infectious Diseases

UCI-Harvard research may help combat the deadly gastrointestinal infection C. diff

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Harvard University have discovered how the Clostridium difficile toxin B (TcdB) recognizes the human Frizzled protein, the receptor it uses to invade intestinal cells and lead to deadly gastrointestinal infections. The findings, published today in Science, could pave the way for new C. diff antitoxins and also show potential for the development of novel anti-cancer drugs. In a C. diff infection (CDI),
Infectious Diseases

New Lyme Disease Tests Could Offer Quicker, More Accurate Detection

New tests to detect early Lyme disease – which is increasing beyond the summer months – could replace existing tests that often do not clearly identify the infection before health problems occur. In an analysis published on December 7 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, scientists from Rutgers University, Harvard University, Yale University, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and other academic centers, industry and
Infectious Diseases

‘Molecular Scissors’ Could Be Key to Cutting Off Diseases Including HIV Infection

One way to fight diseases including HIV infection and autoimmune disorders could involve changing how a naturally occurring enzyme called SAMHD1 works to influence the immune system, new research suggests. The study, led by researchers from The Ohio State University, details how the enzyme influences proteins that stimulate the immune response. SAMHD1 isn’t a molecular “good guy” or “bad guy” per se, but there are cases in which blocking its
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Research with Zebrafish May Lead to Treatment for Blinding Disorders, Including Glaucoma

Jakub Famulski, an assistant professor of biology in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, has received a grant for over $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to study the early formation of the anterior segment of the eye. The research has the potential to lead to more treatment options for patients with blinding disorders. The Research Project Grant (R01), "Comprehensive analysis of periocular mesenchyme composition, specification, and function during
Biotechnology Infectious Diseases rare diseases

Study Shows Evidence of Severe and Lingering Symptoms in Some after Treatment for Lyme Disease

In a study of 61 people treated for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that fatigue, pain, insomnia and depression do indeed persist over long periods of time for some people, despite largely normal physical exams and clinical laboratory testing. “Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) is a real disorder that causes severe symptoms in the absence of clinically detectable infection,” says John N. Aucott, M.D., associate
Biotechnology Gene Therapy Infectious Diseases Vaccines

Discovery of key molecules involved in severe malaria

Malaria*1 is one of three major infectious diseases*2 affecting approximately 300 million people every year, accounting for about 500,000 deaths, but effective vaccine development has not been successful. Among malaria parasites infecting humans, Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum)*3 causes especially severe disease. In addition, acquired immunity to malaria is inefficient, even after repeated exposures to P. falciparum, but the immune regulatory mechanisms used by P. falciparum remain largely unclear. Therefore, malaria
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Finding a Key to Unlock Blocked Differentiation in Microrna-Deficient Embryonic Stem Cells

This aids goal to use stem cells in therapy, where an important hurdle is efficient differentiation. The more than 200 different types of human cells have the same DNA but express different ensembles of genes. Each cell type was derived from embryonic stem cells, which are called pluripotent stem cells because they can differentiate to all those different cell fates. One very active area of biology is cells that mimic
Biotechnology Cell Therapy Clinical Trials Gene Therapy Immunotherapies Infectious Diseases Vaccines

New molecule shows promise in HIV vaccine design

Researchers at the University of Maryland and Duke University have designed a novel protein-sugar vaccine candidate that, in an animal model, stimulated an immune response against sugars that form a protective shield around HIV. The molecule could one day become part of a successful HIV vaccine. "An obstacle to creating an effective HIV vaccine is the difficulty of getting the immune system to generate antibodies against the sugar shield of
Biotechnology Immunotherapies Infectious Diseases rare diseases

Good-Guy Bacteria May Help Cancer Immunotherapies Do Their Job

Individuals with certain types of bacteria in their gut may be more likely to respond well to cancer immunotherapy, researchers at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center found in a study of patients with metastatic melanoma. The incidence of melanoma has been increasing over the past 40 years. Immunotherapies have dramatically improved the outlook for patients with metastatic melanoma in the past half-dozen years, but still only about half
Immunotherapies Infectious Diseases

Confronted with bacteria, infected cells die so others can live, Penn study finds

The immune system is constantly performing surveillance to detect foreign organisms that might do harm. But pathogens, for their part, have evolved a number of strategies to evade this detection, such as secreting proteins that hinder a host's ability to mount an immune response. In a new study, a team of researchers led by Igor E. Brodsky of the University of Pennsylvania, identified a "back-up alarm" system in host cells
Antibiotics Biotechnology Clinical Trials Immunotherapies Infectious Diseases

Research opens possibility of reducing risk of gut bacterial infections with next-generation probiotic

A team of researchers is exploring the possibility that next-generation probiotics - live bacteria that are good for your health - would reduce the risk of infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile. In laboratory-grown bacterial communities, the researchers determined that, when supplied with glycerol, the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri produced reuterin, an antibacterial compound that selectively killed C. difficile. The study appears in Infection and Immunity. "C. difficile causes thousands of
Biotechnology Cell Therapy Immunotherapies Infectious Diseases

Immune cells may be key to better allergy, infection therapies

By learning how a recently discovered immune cell works in the body, researchers hope to one day harness the cells to better treat allergies and infections, according to new Cornell University research. Type 1 regulatory (Tr1) cells are a type of regulatory immune cell that help suppress immune responses, including inflammation and tissue damage, but very few details were known about their development and function. A new study with mice