Raltegravir, an antiretroviral medication that delays the spread of HIV infection provides a new method to treat HIV in children and adolescents. The drug was recently approved (December 21, 2011) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use with other antiretroviral drugs to treat children and teenagers between 2 to18 years of age with the disease. Raltegravir is part of a class of medications called HIV integrase inhibitors and was approved by the FDA for adults in 2007. In a national multi-centered human trial that investigated the safety and effectiveness of raltegravir in HIV-infected children and teenagers funded by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Sharon Nachman (Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and lead researcher and Study Chair) and her team enrolled 95 patients previously treated with a regimen of other HIV medications prior to raltegravir aged between 2 to 18 years to participate in the study.
In this week's PLoS Medicine, Andrea Ciaranello of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA and colleagues find, using a simulation model, that implementation of the latest WHO PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV ) guidelines must take place in conjunction with improving access to PMTCT programs, increasing retention of women in care, and supporting adherence to drugs, in order to eliminate pediatric HIV in Zimbabwe. The authors say: "Although PMTCT uptake in low- and middle-income countries has risen remarkably, from 10% in 2004 to 53% in 2009, greater access to care and medications for HIV-infected pregnant women is still needed... A focused operational research agenda is critical to identify, implement, and evaluate interventions that improve uptake and retention at each step in the PMTCT cascade.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started handing out money to state and local health departments across the country to help fund high impact HIV prevention activities in 2012. The total amount of money available for 2012, intended to cover the first year of a five-year funding cycle, comes to $339 million, said the federal agency on Wednesday. In a statement, the CDC said: "The awards are a critical component of CDC's new high-impact approach to HIV prevention and better align resources to reflect the geographic burden of the HIV epidemic today." Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said: "State and local health departments are the backbone of the nation's HIV prevention efforts." "This latest round of funding will help them lead the nation to slow, and ultimately end, the HIV epidemic in the United States - a public health imperative that could finally be achieved, " he added.
Human tumor viruses contribute to 15-20% of human cancers worldwide. Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) is an etiological agent for Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and two other rare lymphoproliferative malignancies. KS is the most common cancer in HIV-infected untreated individuals and remains a primary cause of cancer deaths in many subequatorial African countries as a result of the AIDS pandemic. Researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology and Research Programs Unit (Genome-Scale Biology) at the University of Helsinki have discovered a novel viral oncogenesis mechanism in which KSHV oncogenes co-opt cellular signaling pathways and modify the cellular microenvironment more permissive for viral replication. The findings by the group of Research Professor PĂ ivi Ojala (Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki) demonstrates the first lymphatic-specific endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) induced by a human tumor virus.
Scientists have tested a trial vaccine that protects rhesus monkeys against infection from a potent form of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a distant relative of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS in humans. Monkeys that received the vaccine were more than 80% less likely to become infected when exposed to SIV than monkeys that received a dummy shot. The new research, led by Harvard Medical School and reported online in the journal Nature on 4 January, has raised hopes that an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine is now a significant step closer because it offers vital clues as to which ingredients may succeed in humans and it identifies new HIV vaccine candidates to test in human trials, which are already being set up. Lead author Dan H. Barouch, Chief of Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), is also a a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and faculty member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.