Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scientists discover radiation 'bomb' that could wipe out HIV from sufferers’ body

Study in laboratory glassware only

For years, doctors have been treating HIV patients using anti-viral drugs, the effects of which can sometimes be mixed.

Now a group of scientists in New York have tried seeing if using powerful doses of radiation - a radioactive smart bomb - might be more effective, and the results are very encouraging.

Researchers found that in patients who were blasted with a combination of antiviral drugs and radiation, the treatment was even more effective and made the HIV virus became undetectable in the body.

Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York is behind this pioneering research which investigated the ability of radioimmunotherapy to kill white blood cells infected with HIV.

The radio active antibodies were also able to kill significantly more HIV-infected cells in the brain whilst doing less damage to the brains delicate systems.

'Antiretroviral treatment only partially penetrates the blood brain barrier, which means that even if a patient is free of HIV systemically, the virus is still able to rage on in the brain, causing cognitive disorders and mental decline,' Dr Dadachova said in a statement. 'Our study showed that radioimmunotherapy is able to kill HIV-infected cells both systemically and within the central nervous system.'

After 30 years of fighting the deadly and incurable virus, scientists think they may be able to find a way to really kill it.

Earlier this week the White House and the National Institutes of Health announced a new, $100 million effort to try to find a cure.

In the latest study, researchers tested a modified version of a therapy now used to treat leukemia on blood taken from 15 patients with HIV, and found evidence it could clean out infected cells.

These so-called latent cells are the main reason that HIV cannot be cured – they lie low in the body, quietly resting until drug treatment stops, and then roar back into action.

The team tried the new technique on 15 patients being treated for HIV.

It killed the infected cells that were still circulating in the patients, and even penetrated into the brain – something that not many drugs can do.

“The elimination of HIV-infected cells with RIT was profound and specific,” Dr. Dadachova said. “The radionuclide we used delivered radiation only to HIV-infected cells without damaging nearby cells.”

The human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS infects 35 million people globally and has killed another 36 million, according to the United Nations.

There’s no cure and experimental vaccines work only poorly.

Drug treatment called antiretroviral therapy can keep the virus suppressed to such low levels that patients are healthy and much less likely to infect others.

However, the virus always seems to remain in the body somewhere, and if the drug treatment is stopped, the cells usually start pumping out more virus again.

Reservoirs of latently infected cells persist in the body, preventing the possibility of a permanent cure.

In a few extremely rare cases, patients appear to have been cured.

RIT, which has historically been employed to treat cancer, uses monoclonal antibodies- cloned cells that are recruited by the immune system to identify and neutralize antigens.

Antigens are foreign objects like bacteria and viruses that stimulate an immune response in the body.

The antibody, designed to recognize and bind to a specific cell antigen, is paired with a radioactive isotope. When injected into the patient’s bloodstream, the laboratory-developed antibody travels to the target cell where the radiation is then delivered.

“In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation,” Dr. Dadachova said. “When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively.”

'We found that radioimmunotherapy could kill HIV-infected cells both in blood samples that received antiretroviral treatment  and within the central nervous system, demonstrating RIT offers real potential for being developed into an HIV cure,'

Because the study was only conducted in blood samples and lab models, researchers say the next step is to test the treatment in clinical trials with humans.


Healthy diet 'may prevent dementia'

This is just the conventional wisdom -- that takes no account of contrary evidence.  Neither Australians nor Scandinavians eat a Mediterranean diet but both live longer than those who do.  But you would never guess that from the conventional medical literature.  The idea that the Med diet is "healthier" is simply and plainly wrong.  It was one of the errors of Ancel Keys but it lives on

THE battle against dementia should be refocused away from "dubious" drugs to the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, a group of British doctors and health experts say ahead of an international summit.

In a letter to British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, they said persuading people to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil was "possibly the best strategy currently available".

But it was being largely ignored because of the "low awareness and prestige given to diet by many in the medical profession", they warned, calling for an education program.

Dementia experts from G8 countries will gather in London this week for a meeting convened by David Cameron as part of the UK's presidency of the group of leading economies.

Hunt has called dementia a health and care "time bomb" with the number of people living with the condition expected to triple worldwide to 135 million by 2050, according to a recent report.
Critics are also concerned about high levels of anti-psychotic drug prescription.

Among signatories to the letter were former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Clare Gerada, the chair of the National Obesity Forum, Professor David Haslam, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool Simon Capewell and London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra.

They said successfully encouraging people onto a healthier diet could have a "far greater impact in the fight to reduce the dramatic increasing rates of the disease than pharmaceutical and medical interventions" than the "dubious benefit of most drugs".
It can also protect against coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Research by the University of Exeter's Medical School found a majority of studies suggested the diet could improve cognitive function, lower rates of decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

However, results for mild cognitive impairment - the stage before Alzheimer's or dementia, when someone could be experiencing some cognitive difficulties - were inconsistent.

"The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet, in preventing all of the chronic diseases that is plaguing the western world is overwhelming," Dr Malhotra said. "This includes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.

"Policy makers and the public need to know that such a diet is far more potent than the often dubious benefit of many medications and without side effects."

Dr Simon Poole, a leading advocate of the Mediterranean diet who organised the letter, said: "Educating all generations, including our children, in the importance of a good diet in maintaining health in old age is a project which will take years, but is absolutely essential."


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