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Archives Of Infectious Disease Blog From Medicineworld.Org

June 10, 2006, 6:43 PM CT

New Insights On Survival in AIDS

New Insights On Survival in AIDS
New insights into how a subpopulation of helper T-cells provides immunity and promotes survival following infection with an AIDS-like virus offer a new means of predicting an AIDS vaccine's effectiveness, a discovery that could help researchers as they test these vaccines in clinical trials.

Led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, these findings appear in the June 9 issue of the journal Science.

"Over the last decade, we have created AIDS vaccines that generate T-cell populations that can combat HIV," explains lead author Norman Letvin, M.D., chief of the Division of Viral Pathogenesis at BIDMC, professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and investigator at the NIAID VRC. "These latest findings now provide us with an important new way of looking at subpopulations of CD4 helper T-cells and suggest how they may be used as a marker to gauge the efficacy of these vaccines."

The work was spearheaded by Letvin and colleagues at the VRC, which is dedicated to improving global human health through the rigorous pursuit of effective vaccines for human diseases such as AIDS. Since it was first identified 25 years ago, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has proven extraordinarily difficult to control. Attempts to develop an HIV vaccine that triggers the production of antibodies -- the mechanism responsible for vaccine protection against other viruses including polio and hepatitis B -- have been unsuccessful.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

June 9, 2006, 0:23 AM CT

Are Antibiotics Being Used For Too Long?

Are Antibiotics Being Used For Too Long?
Taking antibiotics for three days is just as effective for community acquired pneumonia as continuing therapy for the recommended 7-10 days, finds a study in this week's BMJ. Shorter therapy can also help contain growing resistance rates.

The study raises questions about the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment for common infections.

Community acquired pneumonia is one of the most important indications for antibiotic prescriptions in hospitals. But a lack of evidence to support short course treatment means it has become accepted practice to continue therapy for days after symptoms have improved.

Scientists in the Netherlands compared the effectiveness of discontinuing therapy with amoxicillin after three days or eight days in adults admitted to hospital with mild to moderate-severe community acquired pneumonia.

119 patients who substantially improved after the conventional three days' therapy with intravenous amoxicillin were randomly assigned to oral amoxicillin (63 patients) or placebo (56 patients) three times daily for five days. Patients were assessed at days 7, 10 (two days after therapy ended), 14, and 28.

In the three day and eight day therapy groups, the clinical success rate at day 10 was 93% for both, and at day 28 was 90% compared with 88%. Both groups had similar resolution of symptoms, x-ray results, and length of hospital stay.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

May 31, 2006, 9:32 PM CT

New Hope For AIDS Vaccine

New Hope For AIDS  Vaccine Pedro Reche, PhD, and Derin Keskin, PhD
New research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers suggests that it may one day be possible to immunize healthy individuals against HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS.

As per a research findings reported in the online journal Medical Immunology, researchers led by Dana-Farber's Pedro Reche, PhD, and Derin Keskin, PhD, upend the long-held view that human immune system cells do not fully recognize HIV-1 following infection, and thus are unable to eliminate it from the body. The scientists found that lab-grown immune system cells from uninfected individuals are able to distinguish and respond to key HIV proteins. Cells taken from infected individuals, by contrast, were much less responsive to the virus.

If these findings hold true in follow-up studies, they suggest that exposing healthy people to HIV-1 proteins might train their immune to attack the virus and prevent them from developing AIDS if exposed to HIV-1 in the future, Reche said.

"It has been unknown for 20 years why HIV-1 becomes persistent and isn't cleared from the bodies of AIDS patients," says Medical Immunology's editor, Kendall Smith, MD, chief of the Division of Immunology at Weill Medical College at Cornell University. "This study suggests that in HIV-positive people, the immune system cells that respond to HIV-1 are either deleted or have lost the ability to recognize and home in on major parts of the virus."........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

May 30, 2006, 6:58 AM CT

Clever Bacteria Riding In The Stem-cell

Clever Bacteria Riding  In The Stem-cell Accumulation of Wolbachia in the somatic stem cell niche of the germarium. The image shows several developing oocytes in the fruit fly. The Wolbachia, in red, have accumulated in the germarium, which is at the right of the picture.
Scientists have discovered a new clue to how bacterial parasites are able to produce a long-term infection that can spread through an insect population. They have found that a type of bacteria that infects insects actually hitchhikes in the eggs of fruit flies. This ensures that the bacteria are passed from mother to offspring.

The findings show that in the first stages of infection, Wolbachia bacteria home in on stem-cell niches in the fruit fly, where they can continually infect the cells that produce eggs. Stem-cell niches are specialized cellular environments that provide stem cells with the support needed for differentiation and self-renewal.

The new studies offer the first glimpses of how Wolbachia infection, which occurs in a wide range of insects, is passed from one generation to the next. As per the researchers, their experiments with the fruit fly Drosophila offer a valuable laboratory model for tracing the machinery bacteria use to infect insects. The basic studies could ultimately help researchers understand the mechanisms underlying insect-borne parasitic diseases that affect humans.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Eric Wieschaus, first author and HHMI research associate Horacio Frydman, Jennifer Li, and Drew Robson collaborated on the studies. The researchers, who are all at Princeton University, published their findings in the May 25, 2006, issue of the journal Nature.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

May 27, 2006, 7:19 PM CT

New Images Of AIDS Virus

New Images Of AIDS Virus Envelope Spikes on Surface of HIV-1 virus.
Courtesy of Kenneth Roux
As the world marks the 25th year since the first diagnosed case of AIDS, groundbreaking research by researchers at Florida State University has produced remarkable three-dimensional images of the virus and the protein spikes on its surface that allow it to bind and fuse with human immune cells.

Findings from this AIDS research could boost the development of vaccines that will thwart infection by targeting and crippling the sticky HIV-1 spike proteins. In fact, said principal investigator and FSU Professor Kenneth H. Roux, at least two laboratories already are crafting vaccine candidates based on preliminary results uncovered by his team of structural biologists.

Those results are described in the online edition of the journal Nature.

Never before generated in such intricate detail, the super-sized images of the virus and its viral spikes have given scientists their first good look at the pathogen's complex molecular surface architecture that facilitates the infection process.

"Until now, despite intensive study by a number of laboratories, the design details of the spikes and their distribution pattern on the surface of the virus membrane have been poorly understood, which has limited our understanding of how the virus infection actually occurs and frustrated efforts to create vaccines," Roux said.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

May 26, 2006, 0:00 AM CT

Revolution In The Fight Against Cancer

Revolution In The Fight Against Cancer
A recent scientific discovery could herald the introduction of fast, effective therapys for cancer and viruses.

In a paper reported in the May edition of Nature Biotechnology, researchers describe how they have manipulated a process that occurs naturally throughout the human body, into a potential therapeutic tool.

"The process, called RNA interference, blocks the production of proteins that create cancer and viruses," said research leader and Director of the Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR), Professor Bryan Williams.

"We've exploited this process by creating short interfering RNA, or siRNA, that are being developed into drugs to fight viruses and cancer," he said. "We've now taken this a step further and worked out how we can create siRNA with different cellular properties to target different diseases."

While prior studies had demonstrated siRNA had the potential to be a potent anti-cancer and anti-viral agent, Professor Williams had shown there was a danger siRNA-based drugs could cause a dangerous inflammatory response.

Professor Williams and his team have now discovered the physical structure of siRNA are key to creating effective anti-cancer and anti-viral drugs. This will allow both the development of siRNA-based drugs to react differently for different diseases.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

May 25, 2006, 10:52 PM CT

Preventing Lyme Disease

Preventing Lyme Disease Ixodes scapularis, tic responsible for lyme disease
It's tick season, but gardeners, hikers, and others enjoying the great outdoors shouldn't let concerns about Lyme disease keep them inside. A few tips to keep ticks away, and some advice from infectious diseases doctors about Lyme disease, should help you enjoy the spring and summer weather, as per the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), a medical professional association representing the nation's foremost experts in Lyme and other infectious diseases.

"With tick season upon us, it's important to put Lyme disease into perspective," said Gary P. Wormser, MD, chairman of the IDSA expert panel on Lyme disease and chief, division of infectious diseases, department of medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla. "The vast majority, more than 95 percent, of people who do contract the disease are easily treated and cured with short-term antibiotic treatment."

Lyme disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi is a bacterial infection transmitted by a particular type of tick that typically feeds on small mammals, birds and deer but may also feed on cats, dogs and humans. Eventhough the disease has been reported in nearly all states, most cases are concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic and northeast states. Many cases also have been reported in Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern California.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

May 24, 2006, 0:32 AM CT

Alcohol Abuse Increases The Risk Of Pneumonia

Alcohol Abuse Increases The Risk Of Pneumonia
The results of a paper reported in the journal Chest (129(5):1219-25) show that alcoholic and ex-alcoholic individuals have a higher risk of suffering from community acquired pneumonia. Eventhough mortality did not differ significantly, an increase of the severeness of the disease was shown, and consequently, an increase of the morbidity and the complications was revealed. This study was conducted by the Pneumonia Multidiscipline Group of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, led by Dr. Antoni Torres, from the Institut Clínic del Torax, and leader of the IDIBAPS Group Management and Prevention of the Pulmonary Disease.

The increase of the risk of suffering from pneumonia in alcoholic patients exists due to the fact that the activity of their immune system decreases. This decrease not only is observed in alcoholic, but also in ex alcoholic patients. The daily quantity of alcohol consumption in order to include patients in the group of alcohol abuse was of 80 g in man and 60 g in women, the equivalent of 2 or 3 beers and 3 or 4 cups of wine.

Results are particularly relevant since alcohol is the more abused drug in Spain, and causes a total of 12,000 deaths every year. In addition, pneumonia is a very frequent disease, with 10 patients every 1,000 inhabitants in Catalonia. This number is much higher if we take into account in the population over 65. This is the reason why the consequences of this study, and the possible vaccination of alcoholic of ex-alcoholic individuals against Pneumococcus, would affect a very high number of people. Alcohol consumption could turn into a new risk factor or a worsening factor to take into account in cases of community acquired pneumonia.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

May 21, 2006, 9:49 AM CT

Key Role For Vegf In Onset Of Sepsis

Key Role For Vegf In Onset Of Sepsis
A study led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found that the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein is a key biomarker for sepsis, a severe inflammatory response that develops following a bacterial infection. The findings, which would be reported in the June 12, 2006, issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) and currently appear on-line, offer a promising new target for the development of drug therapies to treat this overwhelming - and often fatal -- condition.

"Sepsis represents a patient's response to severe infection," explains senior author William C. Aird, MD, Chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine and Associate Director of the Center for Vascular Biology at BIDMC. "We know that antibiotics will take care of the primary infection, but 30 percent of patients with severe sepsis will die in spite of successful antibiotic treatment because the body's host response is out of control and turns on its bearer."

Sepsis develops when the immune system becomes overactivated in response to an existing infection, setting in motion a cascade of dangerous inflammatory and coagulation responses throughout the body. A leading cause of organ failure and intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations, severe sepsis accounts for 200,000 deaths each year and poses a particular danger in hospital settings, where patients are more likely to come in contact with antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and when their immune systems have already been weakened by illness or therapys.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

May 17, 2006, 11:30 PM CT

Hepatitis C Virus Infection Increases Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Hepatitis C Virus Infection Increases Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection who are 40 years of age or older have three times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with their uninfected counterparts, as per a report in the recent issue of Diabetes Care.

"HCV is a diabetogenic agent that by means of increasing insulin resistance strongly predisposes infected patients to type 2 diabetes," Dr. Rafael Simo from Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain told Reuters Health. Dr. Simo and his colleagues reviewed the available evidence concerning the epidemiological association between HCV infection and diabetes.

In all studies that contained a control group, there was a higher prevalence of HCV antibodies among patients with type 2 diabetes than among nondiabetic patients, the authors report. This was not the case for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Similarly, data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) confirmed a three-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes in patients who were at least 40 years old and infected with HCV. Again, the results indicate, there was no association between HCV infection and type 1 diabetes.

In other studies, HCV-positive patients with chronic hepatitis were three times as likely to have glucose abnormalities, compared with HCV-negative subjects with other liver diseases. Diabetes and impaired fasting glucose were also more common among patients with anti-HCV antibodies.........

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Did you know?
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a genetic marker that may identify individuals at greater risk for life-threatening infection from the West Nile virus. Results of the study are reported in the Nov. 15 print edition of Journal of Infectious Diseases. Archives of infectious disease blog

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