HIV has eluded vaccine-makers for thirty years, in part due to the virus' extreme ability to mutate. Physical scientists and clinical virologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ragon Institute in Cambridge, Mass., have identified a promising strategy for vaccine design using a mathematical technique that has also been used in problems related to quantum physics, as well as in analyses of stock market price fluctuations and studies of enzyme sequences. The team, led by Arup Chakraborty of MIT and Bruce Walker of the Ragon Institute, will give an update on its work at the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting, held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif. Vaccines prime the immune system to target molecular signatures associated with a particular pathogen. But HIV's ability to mutate has made it difficult to identify reliable vaccine targets.
In a study published in Nature Medicine, Loyola researchers report on a promising new technique that potentially could turn immune system killer T cells into more effective weapons against infections and possibly cancer. The technique involves delivering DNA into the immune system's instructor cells. The DNA directs these cells to overproduce a specific protein that jumpstarts important killer T cells. These killer cells are typically repressed in patients who have HIV or cancer, said JosÃ A. Guevara-Patino, MD, PhD, senior author of the study. Guevara is an Associate Professor in the Oncology Institute of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Guevara and colleagues reported their technique proved effective in jumpstarting defective immune systems in immuno-compromised mice and in human killer T cells taken from people with HIV.
According to a study conducted by researchers at RTI International and published in the March 13 issue of AIDS, African women who are infected with a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection called Mycoplasma genitalium are two times more likely to acquire HIV infection. Sue Napierala Mavedzenge, Ph.D., lead researcher or the study and a research investigator with the Women's Global Health Imperative at RTI International, said: "Further research will be required to confirm a causal relationship and to identify risk factors for M. genitalium infection in African populations. If findings from this research are confirmed, M. genitalium screening and treatment among women at high risk for HIV-1 infection may be warranted as part of an HIV-1 prevention strategy." M. genitalium is a small parasitic bacterium STD, first identified in 1980.
Discovery Of New 'Off Switch' In Immune Response Offers New Insights Into Inner Workings Of Our Immune System
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have discovered a new 'off switch' in our immune response which could be boosted in diseases caused by over-activation of our immune system, or blocked to improve vaccines. The findings are published this week in the journal Nature Communications. The research was funded by Health Research Board, Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland. The research team, led by Dr Anne McGettrick and Professor Luke O'Neill, at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, have discovered that a protein, called TMED7, can shut down part of our immune system once an infection has been eliminated. "Without stop signals like TMED7 our immune system would continue to rage out of control long after the infection has been cleared, leading to diseases such as septic shock, " says Dr Anne McGettrick.
Some of the key factors that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic amongst American women are physical violence, sexual abuse and other childhood and adult traumas. The fact that traumatized women have a higher infection risk has long been known amongst the scientific society, however, the journal AIDS and Behavior has just published two new studies, which show that highly traumatized HIV-positive women have an impact on the epidemic and that that their risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is substantially higher than that of women in the general population. The study findings from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Harvard Medical School can potentially help in restructuring several types of HIV/AIDS discussions, so that more clinicians account for their patients' trauma when working.