In 2006, an HIV-positive man was diagnosed with leukemia. First he received chemotherapy, and when the cancer returned his doctor recommended a stem-cell transplant with tissues obtained from a bone-marrow donor. After finding an unusually high number of compatible donors, his doctor, Gero Hütter, had a simple idea that would change the course of HIV research. Dr. Hütter knew of a rare genetic mutation that confers immunity to many strains of HIV, including the strain that infected his cancer patient. And new blood cells, including immune cells, are manufactured by bone marrow. What if he could find a bone-marrow donor with this mutation? What effect would it have on the HIV infection?
Five years after his cancer diagnosis, the man, known as the Berlin patient and recently identified as Timothy Ray Brown, is in remission from cancer … and the most sensitive tests have been unable to detect HIV anywhere in his body, despite the discontinuation of antiretroviral drugs. Scientists are a cautious lot, careful not to make grand statements without qualifying them with words like “seem” and “suggest.” But more and more, researchers are starting to say that Brown could be the first case in which a cure for HIV was attained.
Can stem cells cure AIDS? Not yet. But a provocative new study shows that human stem cells can be genetically engineered to attack living cells infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
“We believe that this study lays the groundwork for the potential use of this type of an approach in combating HIV infection in infected individuals, in hopes of eradicating the virus from the body,” study author Dr. Scott G. Kitchen, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, said in a written statement released by the university.
For the “proof-of-principle” study, Dr. Kitchen’s team implanted genetically engineered human blood stem cells into “humanized” mice, rodents in which HIV infection and the resulting disease resemble what happens in HIV-infected humans.
When the researchers checked the mice’s blood, plasma, and organs weeks later, they found an increase in levels of so-called CD4 “helper” T cells—infection-fighting cells that become depleted as a result of HIV infection. At the same time, levels of HIV fell.
The finding, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, comes more than a year after The Huffington Post reported that an HIV-positive man known as the “Berlin patient” was apparently cured of his infection by a stem cell transplant.
Just how significant is the new finding?
In an email to The Huffington Post, renowned AIDS researcher Dr. Nathaniel R. Landau, professor of microbiology at New York University Langone Medical Center, called it “a remarkable demonstration of the power we are developing to alter how our bodies work. That is, that you can in the laboratory do something that will educate the cells of the immune system to recognize a specific pathogen.”
Many obstacles must be overcome before the research might lead to a real-world cure for AIDS, Dr. Landau said, adding that “This is not something that will be ready for patients this year or next (maybe 4-5 years?).”
For now, the UCLA researchers plan to begin making genetically engineered T cells that target different parts of HIV, according to the statement.
As of 2010, World Health Organization statistics show that 34 million people around the world were living with HIV infection. AIDS claimed 1.8 million lives in 2010.
You think you may have herpes, genital warts, or HIV, but you don’t have a doctor or are too ashamed and worried to go to a health center or clinic. So you research online and find impressive looking medical sites that offer “cures” for your condition. These claims sound too good to be true, and they are!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined forces in the Fraudulent STD Products Initiative. The FDA is the government agency that evaluates drugs for safety and effectiveness. Together, these agencies are warning makers of these bogus products to change their claims or take these products off the market. The FDA states that none of these products have been shown to treat any disease and they may have untested ingredients that could cause harm. Dr. Debbie Birnkrant of the Food and Drug Administration warns that these products won’t work and may cause delays in someone getting treament. Effective treatments for Sexually Transmitted Diseases are only available by prescription through a health care provider.
“More Americans now die from hepatitis C infection than from HIV, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The rate of HIV deaths has been falling while the rate for hepatitis C has been rising and the two curves crossed each other in 2007, according to Kathleen Ly, MPH, and colleagues.
In that year, they wrote in the Feb. 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, 12,734 deaths were blamed on HIV, compared with 15,106 attributed to hepatitis C.
The analysis, based on death certificates from 1999 through 2007, also showed that the death rate for hepatitis B has been falling slightly, although it was the underlying or contributing cause of 1,815 deaths in 2007.
The figures probably represent “only a fraction of a larger burden of morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis,” Ly and colleagues argued, noting that chronic hepatitis infection — both B and C — is most prevalent among people born from 1945 through 1965.
Most of those with the disease do not know they are infected and they are now reaching the age where they are at risk for hepatitis-related diseases and death, they noted.
Indeed, in 2007, 73.4% of hepatitis C-related deaths were among people ages 45 through 64, while 59.4% of hepatitis B-related deaths occurred in that age group, they found.”
INFECTIOUS VAGINITIS: An accurate diagnosis is essential and attainable (Postgraduate Medicine)
Abstract: Although common and easily managed, yeast vaginitis, trichomoniasis, and bacterial infections can be deceptive, because symptoms are variable and often misinterpreted. In this article, Drs Coco and Vandenbosche offer clear diagnostic guidelines and detailed treatment options for each of these types of infection. Also included are recommendations about when asymptomatic infection can be safely left untreated. Coco AS, Vandenbosche M. Infectious vaginitis: an accurate diagnosis is essential and attainable. Take Action! Get it immediately!!
The arms race between humanity and disease-causing bacteria is drawing to a close—and the bacteria are winning. The latest evidence: gonorrhea is becoming resistant to all standard antibiotic treatment.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world—with about 600,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. A few years ago, investigators started seeing cases of infection that did not easily respond to treatment with a group of drugs called cephalosporins, which are currently the last line of defense against this particular infection. Now, the number of drug-resistant cases has grown so much in the U.S. and elsewhere that gonorrheal infection may soon become untreatable, according to doctors writing in the February 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“A major study of oral infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) — now known to cause of a subset of oropharyngeal cancer — has found a much higher incidence in men than in women and has established sexual transmission as the main way it spreads. It also raises questions about whether existing HPV vaccines offer protection.
There is a rising incidence in oral HPV infection and in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer in the United States. “The curves are a little bit frightening,” said lead author Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, from Ohio State University in Columbus. But she pointed out that vaccines against HPV are already marketed, so “we have the means to prevent this already sitting on our pharmacy shelves.”
The HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) were developed to offer protection against cervical cancer after the link between cervical HPV infection and cervical cancer was firmly established, and are targeted mainly to girls.
The link between oral HPV infection and oral HPV cancer was established more recently; Dr. Gillison reported that the research is about 20 years behind that for cervical cancer. There is speculation — although no hard data — that the same vaccines could offer protection against HPV-associated oral cancer. Because this is more prevalent in men, it would make sense to vaccinate boys as well as girls.”
Hepatitis C, an infectious disease that can cause inflammation and organ failure, has different effects on different people. But no one is sure why some people are very susceptible to the infection, while others are resistant.
Scientists believe that if they could study liver cells from different people in the lab, they could determine how genetic differences produce these varying responses. However, liver cells are difficult to obtain and notoriously difficult to grow in a lab dish because they tend to lose their normal structure and function when removed from the body.
Now, researchers from MIT, Rockefeller University and the Medical College of Wisconsin have come up with a way to produce liver-like cells from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, which are made from body tissues rather than embryos; the liver-like cells can then be infected with hepatitis C. Such cells could enable scientists to study why people respond differently to the infection.
This is the first time that scientists have been able to establish an infection in cells derived from iPSCs — a feat many research teams have been trying to achieve. The new technique, described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could also eventually enable “personalized medicine”: Doctors could test the effectiveness of different drugs on tissues derived from the patient being treated, and thereby customize therapy for that patient.
The new study is a collaboration between Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT; Charles Rice, a professor of virology at Rockefeller; and Stephen Duncan, a professor of human and molecular genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.Click title to read more.
Trichomonas vaginalis, or Trichomoniasis, is a single celled protozoan and a sexually transmitted bacteria. It is the most common curable STD of young women. About 7.4 million new casses occur every year in men and women. It is often spread from penis to vulva or vulva to vulva.
The signs and symptoms in men are:
- irritation in penis
- mild discharge
- slight burning after urination
- slight burning after ejaculation
The signs and symptoms usually develop 5-29 days after exposture. These are:
- frothy, yellow-green discharge
- strong odor
- irritation and or itching in area
- discomfort during intercourse or urination
Trichomoniasis is often detected by small sores or swab test in women and swab test by men. It is often hard to detect in men. It is simple to treat with a single dose of metronidazole or tinidazole, taken by mouth. Wow, how simple is that. If you are diagnosed with Trichmoniasis, or “trich”, then you should refrain from sexual activity for a few weeks. Also, tell your recent partner(s), have them tested and treated at the same time you are getting treated.
Once you are cured of Trick, you can get it again. Prevention includes condoms, getting tested, and abstinence. One of the issues with trich is that most people do not know about it. Another is that it can be asymptomatic, which leads to spread of the disease. Get tested!
Have safe responsible sex! Have fun.
Resources: CDC and Microbewiki
Yesterday I was volunteering at a free health clinic. I am very familiar with the staff because I am there quite a bit. After I had finished rooming a patient and taking their vitals I returned to the back office to grab the next chart. One of the office workers leaned over and said “that guy has genital warts.” I looked at her blankly, not sure what kind of response she was looking for.
“Well I responded, that is confidential information and really doesn’t concern me.” I was appalled, it became obvious she had intended me to laugh.
I was so frustrated I began to list to her all that I knew about genital warts. For example it is caused by a virus (the HPV virus) that up to 80% of the population carries. “Chances are,” I said, “you have it too.” Only an unlucky 1% seem to have any wart like symptoms. Also, most women fail to recognize symptoms because the growths occur internally, either on the cervix or in the vaginal canal. Finally, other than cosmetic concerns, there is a lot of data to suggest that HPV warts have no detrimental effects. HPV can cause cancer, but my understanding is that the types that cause warts do not cause cancer.
She sat silent, and that was the end of the conversation. I think this was an important lesson for both of us. It is easy to judge when you are ignorant. As health care professionals we should be above that. What if he had heard her snickers about his disorder? What if someone with in that office had the same disorder? We treat humans, that are emotional beings with complex feelings, not just diseases in a chart. Often we see people at their lowest points. Never should they have to be further subjected to pain just for needing help.
If this seems like a rant, it is. Remember who you represent and who you are responsible for. Patient trust is a privilege, not one that should be taken lightly. Shattering it may be a permanent problem leaving that patient with out health care they can feel confident in.
You can learn more about HPV warts here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm