Showing posts with label HIV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HIV. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cow Antibodies Bring Hope for eEfective AIDS Vaccine Soon

Potential HIV antibody detected in cows

The immune system provides human protection against all possible viruses. Researchers from the US found a solution to inject patients the antibodies. They are produced by cows. Cows could be the key to the development of an HIV vaccine. According to a new study, they are able to produce effective antibodies.

Special cows are given special treatment: "These are probably the most carefully watched and pampered cows around the world. Their entire diet are strictly controlled, their health is checked daily.

The animals, of whom Matthew Frieman speaks here, are drug factories on four legs, says the US Virology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. To make them, scientists have changed the genotype of cattle. "These transgenic cows have an additional chromosome in their cell nuclei, and they contain genes from humans that encode human antibodies, and the interesting thing about this technology is that if you vaccinate such a cow against a particular pathogen, it does not produce any cow antibodies against it”.

Despite years of research, there is still no vaccine against HIV infection. This is because the virus is constantly changing, even in the body of an already infected human being. Science is therefore feverishly searching for a so-called broadly neutralizing HIV antibody. This would protect against a variety of HIV strains.

An international research team has for the first time injected HIV proteins into four calves to test the response of the ruminant's immune system to the intruder. To the astonishment of the scientists, the cows produced within a very short time broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies. Already after 42 days, the cow antibodies neutralized 20 percent of the tested HIV strains. After 381 days it was as much as 96 percent, as the researchers reported in the journal "Nature".

Side effects of cow digestion

Although a small percentage of people are able to produce broad-neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies, it takes three to five years. One reason for this is that antibodies that act against the HI virus differ strongly from normal human antibodies.

To effectively attach to a virus, it needs a chain of about 30 amino acids that protrudes from the antibody. This is twice as long as that of an ordinary human antibody. For a cow antibody, however, it is short. And so the researchers came to the idea of trying their luck in cows. The complex digestive system of ruminants, which are populated with pathogenic bacteria, may be due to the fact that cows are capable of producing such antibodies.

Hope for vaccine


The researchers now hope to use the obtained findings to bring the human body to produce antibodies with long amino acid sequences. This could be the basis for an effective vaccine, the researchers believe. It is also possible that the cow antibodies themselves could be used for a drug for HIV treatment should their effectiveness be confirmed in other organisms

Anthony Fauci, director of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, supported the research, the BBC said: "Already at the beginning of the epidemic, we have recognized that the HI virus is very good at evading immunization. That is why exceptional immune systems that produce broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies are very interesting - whether they are human or cows. "

Friday, 2 September 2016

HIV effort let down by test shortages, says WHO


Neglected HIV

Experts from the World Health Organization warn that a scarcity of HIV testing could destabilize efforts globally to detect and cure people who are fallen prey to the infection. They went through the replies of the yearly surveys which the World Health Organization has delivered to 127 countries in the middle of 2012 and 2014 enquiring about the volume and practice of blood tests that can keep HIV status and health in check.

They found gaps of concern setting up. They cautioned the United Nations that as a result of this that target for HIV could be overlooked. The targets states that by the year 2020, about 90% of all those living with HIV, should be aware of their HIV status, 90% of those in which the infection has been detected should be given anti retroviral therapy and about 90% of those among these patients that are treated should have an amount of treatment which is effective or in their terms, ‘durable viral suppression.’ Laboratory testing is of utmost importance so as to meet and observe these aims.

But in the journal PLoS Medicine, Vincent Habiyambere and his team say that those countries where the people have low or moderate income, counting African countries where the infection strain is high, are not yet set up for the task. The reviews were sent to:

  • The top 7 high stricken HIV countries in the WHO belonging to the Western Pacific Region 
  • All 47 countries in the WHO belonging to African Region 
  • 33 countries of the Region of the Americas in the WHO 
  • All of 21 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region in the WHO 
  • 8 countries in the European Region who very high driven by HIV 
  • South-East Asia Region in the WHO comprising of all 11 countries.
Over the three years that the survey was conducted, a total of 55 countries answered back to all the three surveys (43%), 35 countries responded to two out of the three (28%), 25 countries replied back to only one survey (20%) and 9 countries reverted back to not a single survey. Over the years, testing facilities did improve, but what remained in few parts of the world were under performances and deficits.

Worrying gaps

The reasons that caused gaps in providing the facilities comprise of deficiency of reagents, installation and maintenance of tools not done properly and insufficient or lacking training of staff. In some labs, the machines were not sent for servicing regularly.

In the remaining, machines stopped functioning and could not be covered by warranty to be repaired or serviced. Dr Habiyambere and his colleagues say that a national lab tactical plan to reinforce services must be established, executed and examined by not only governments but also their international and nation partners. The goal of community internationally is to make sure that the prime use of technologies of laboratory should be for those countries where involvements for an increasing access to HIV investigative technology is of great need.

They do confess that they did not take a look at testing for private sectors and that some of the countries may depend a lot on this as compared to others. HIV specialists Raiva Simbi and Kilmarx say in an associated editorial that the results portray that some platforms could have possibly been focused at more than required on purchasing apparatus without planning for how to use it and maintain the devices.

For instance, in Zimbabwe, in 2015 only 5.6% of the patients that were infected by HIV that were on drug treatment received consistent blood checks to keep in check their viral burden – way far then their actual aim of 21%. They believe that this was greatly down to difficulties with the mobilisation of resources and the transportation of specimen as well as the procurement of the devices.

They concluded by saying that in order to up scale the laboratory services they will need strong leadership qualities, proper planning and management as well as resources. The testing should be carried on frequently or as required depending upon the amount of specimen test that need to be run and the availability of resources. Proper planning techniques should be implemented for which firstly staff need to be trained regarding the same.

No proper planning would not only cause a problem but would also lead to wastage of labour, resources and money. The procedures could be allotted and one task could be taken up so that it prompts maximum accuracy with minimized trial and errors.

The goal could be achieved if the procedures are conducted faithfully and with awareness. Machines and equipment should be handled delicately and be maintained from time to time to obtain longevity. Lastly, patients should receive time to time blood check-ups to observe the viral load or bulk within their system. This could help in speeding up tests.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Paper Microchip' Can Diagnose HIV Anywhere


Diagnostic Tools – Detecting Bio-agents in Blood

Biomedical engineers from Florida Atlantic University have incorporated cellulose paper together with flexible polyester films that could be utilised as diagnostic tools in detecting bio-agents in blood – a bio sensing platform which combines a smartphone and a paper microchip that could transform the diagnosis of a number of diseases inclusive of HIV in remote areas.

All that is needed in performing the diagnosis using the platform is a drop of blood from the fingertip of a patient. Earlier attempts in creating paper diagnostic material had been restricted due to the fact that they needed complex labelling to amplify the signal which was not easy to create and organize.

Researchers have explained how they have overcome these challenges in a recent research with the development of a bio-sensing platform. Three individual materials had been developed in sensing bio-agents and the use of lensless shadow imaging technology which means no signal amplification was necessary. The research had been published in Nature Scientific Reports.

The platform would also provide an explanation for remote healthcare providers for both the developed as well as developing world, since the lightweight, thin as well as the flexible substance can be fabricated and operated without much costly infrastructure or skilled workers.

Microchips – Safely & Easily Discarded

Moreover the microchips can also be safely and easily discarded by burning. The accompanying smartphone app enables diseases to be diagnosed by using images of the microchips from any location in the world. Co-author of the study, Waseem Asghar has stated that `there is a dire need for robust, portable, disposable and inexpensive bio-sensing platforms for clinical care, especially in developing countries having limited resources’.

Hadi Shafiee another co-first author had also commented saying that `their paper microchip technologies can potentially have significant impact on infectious diseases management in low as well as middle-income countries where there is limited laboratory infrastructure’.

Treatment monitoring at the point-of-care (POC) settings is of great interest in clinical application for disease diagnosis. Accurate and rapid POC diagnostic evaluates tend to play an import role in the developing countries with limited trained personnel together with financial support, besides limited laboratory infrastructure.

Technical Challenges in Different Detection Modalities

However, present diagnostic test generally need long test time together with sophisticated setup and expensive reagents which are not compatible with resource strained settings. Though paper and flexible material based platform technologies tend to offer a choice on approaches in the development of POC diagnostic test for comprehensive application in medicine, they do have technical challenges incorporating in different detection modalities.

By incorporating these different detection modalities, selective and accurate captureas well as detection of various bio-targets are presented, which include viruses, bacteria, and cells from finger-prick volume which is equivalent of multiple biological specimens like whole blood, plasma and peritoneal dialysis effluent together with clinically relevant detection and sensitivity.

Though researchers have limited the initial trials of the platform to testing of HIV, E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which could cause food poisoning, they are assertive that it could be adjusted and personalised for the purpose of detecting other pathogens and bio-targets. Besides this, the platform also has the capabilities of being used as more than a diagnosis tool but alternative applications like drug development, food safety, veterinary medicine and environmental monitoring,

Monday, 27 July 2015

Health - Cuba Becomes First Ever Country To Eliminate Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV


Cuba – First Country to Eliminate Transmission of HIV/Syphilis

Cuba has become the first country in eliminating the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby and has demonstrated that its health care system is something that can be admired and learned by becoming the first country to receive World Health Organization – WHO, validation.Margaret Chan, WHO’s director general has said that it was `one of the greatest public health achievements possible’ and an important step for an Aid-free generation.

Caribbean countries over the past five years have improved access to antiretroviral drugs as a regional initiative in eliminating mother-to-child transmission. Syphilis and HIV testing of pregnant women as well as their partners, caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding have made their contribution in the breakthrough of the infection chain according to `WHO’.

Though the term `elimination’ may give rise to believe that this type of transmission could have been cleared out, it is not essential to meet the needs set out by WHO for the purpose of validation. On the contrary, the country requires demonstration that the country has less than 50 infections from this route of transmission for 100,000 births for at least a year though Cuba has exceeded these requirements. Only two babies were born with HIV and just five with syphilis in 2013.

Major Victory in Long Fight against HIV

Dr Margaret Chan commented in a statement that `eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible. This is a major victory in the long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infection and an important step towards an AID-free generation.

There are around 16 million women living with HIV, all over the world and every year about 1.4 million of them tend to get pregnant and the risk of transferring the virus to their child is around 1%, if the anti-HIV drug is not given during phases where infection tends to take place, right through the stage of pregnancy to breastfeeding.

If they are left without any treatment, there could be around 45% chance of the child getting infected during any of these stages. While syphilis obtains considerably less attention than HIV, the infection at the time of pregnancy could tend to be serious bad news since it could lead to stillbirth or neonatal death without the antibiotic therapy.

Initiative Set in 2010 to Reduce Mother-to-child Transmission

An initiative was set up in 2010 to reduce the mother-to-child transmission rate of both of these, which improved the access to testing as well as treating these infection, caesarean deliveries as well as breastfeeding alternatives.

Services which tend to form part of the universal health system of Cuba are said to be implemented in various other countries and are being helpful towards the global aim of less than 40,000 new infections yearly. Though Cuba could be the first country in receiving the WHO validation stamp, it is not that other countries have not reached the elimination position.

As Carissa Etienne, Pan American Health Organization Director points out that it is likely that the U.S. and Canada have already eliminated mother-to-child transmission of both these infections, but have not sought validation. Thirty other countries have requested validation and so they could see the list begin to grow soon.

Monday, 2 December 2013

HIV/AIDS and Mental Health

Effects and Coping

Physical health problems can affect anybody, anywhere, anytime. The same applies to Mental Health. People diagnosed with HIV are more likely to experience mental health problems than others. HIV can cause AIDS which is an immune deficiency disease that compromises the body’s immune system and causes it to break down making it unable to fight infections. It leaves the body weak, vulnerable and unable to cope. This terminal disease brings along with it a lot of psychological issues causing mental health symptoms and illness.

Being diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, a lot of mental health issues accompany such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression and trauma. Strong emotional reactions are produced upon discovering the prevalence of the physical illness. This may range from initial denial to anger, progressing to depression, fear, anxiety and stress. Along with these symptoms, a lot of social symptoms may also occur such as substance abuse and social isolation to cope with the distress. Conflicting emotions arises which makes the person feel stressed, sad, angry ad helpless. Some may even have suicidal thoughts and it is understandable that feelings of helplessness and fear of illness, disability and death may be present.

When people first discover that they are HIV positive they often deal with it by denying the truth. They may believe that the results were not accurate or there was a mix up. This is usually the first natural normal reaction. Once denial doesn’t help a person cope, the next stage is anger where the person feel rage as to why them or why they didn’t know earlier. Dealing with anger is important by talking to others for support, exercising for eliminating these feelings and avoiding circumstances and situations that may make the person feel angry.

Persistent sadness or depression may engulf the person where the person may feel sad, irritated, and hopeless and may also see changes in eating and sleeping patterns. A natural loss of interest may occur and the person may feel tired, worthless and guilty and have difficulty concentration. Depression is twice as common in people with HIV as compared to others. Treatment can be sought to deal with these feelings by psychotherapy, medications and counseling based on the person’s physical and mental condition.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and panic, accompanied by intensive sweating, shortness of breath, increased heartbeat, nervousness, agitation and headaches. It is often caused by circumstances that result in fear, insecurity and uncertainty which is the discovery of having AIDS in this scenario. Every HIV patient may have a different experience of anxiety and this can be treated by medications and psychotherapy.
Substance abuse is a common presence among people with HIV infection and this unfortunately can trigger and complicate mental health problems.Use of substances can increase the levels of distress, interfere with treatment and can also lead to memory impairment. Addressing this is critical as the symptoms can impersonate mental disorders and other mental health problems.

HIV infection and AIDS affects all the aspects of a person’s life. People with HIV and AIDS are demanded to adapt to a life threatening chronic illness and the associated physical and mental challenges. Coping may seem difficult but it is not impossible. A person can talk to their doctor about treatments for depression and anxiety and can get involved with a support group and find emotional support with family and friends. It is completely normal to have emotional reactions of anxiety, fear and depression but it is important to note that these symptoms are not permanent and help is available with doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, family members, friends, support groups and other services.