University of Minnesota researchers have identified the mechanism of a potential HIV drug target, which could be more cost-effective than currently used HIV drugs.
The study expanded upon previous UMN research, which identified that the nucleoside 5-azacytidine (5-aza-C) blocked HIV’s ability to spread. 5-aza-C triggers lethal mutagenesis, a process in which HIV mutations speed up to a point that the HIV essentially wears itself out.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Inquiry.
New Doctors treating people with HIV have faced a tough decision. Should patients begin drug therapy before AIDS symptoms appear, and put up with the inconvenience and potential side effects? Or is it better to wait until their CD4+ T cell count – a key barometer of the immune system’s health –drops below a certain level, even though that means a greater risk of transmitting the virus to a partner?
This summer an answer finally emerged. The international START (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) study, the first large, randomized and controlled clinical trial of the issue, showed the benefits of early treatment so clearly that the trial was halted prematurely so the volunteers receiving deferred treatment could begin therapy.
“Early treatment was effective everywhere in the world,” says James Neaton, a University of Minnesota biostatistics professor and principal investigator for INSIGHT (International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials), which designed and conducted the trial. “We had more than a thousand people enrolled from sub-Saharan Africa, and a total of 4,685 people from 35 countries.”
The findings came in combination with a statement ending the study because the benefits of starting treatment right away were so definitive.
Patients suffering from an AIDS-related infection should start therapy later than expected, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
In a report set to appear in the June 26, 2014, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that waiting 4-6 weeks to start HIV therapy after cryptococcal meningitis diagnosis resulted in 15% better survival than starting HIV therapy 1-2 weeks after diagnosis.
“The overall result is quite surprising. As with every other AIDS-related infection, starting HIV therapy sooner is better,” said the study’s lead author David Boulware, M.D., M.P.H. “It appears that brain infections are different.”
In 2003, a team of scientists made a groundbreaking discovery tracing the origin of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) back to African monkeys. Since then, Dominic Travis, D.V.M.,has been at the forefront of a collaborative effort that seeks to fully understand how infectious diseases impact all primates — including humans.
“We try and find variables that connect habitat, wildlife, livestock and humans,” said Travis, wildlife veterinary medicine and epidemiology specialist at the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine.