The week in infectious diseases – January 12th 2018

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HIV

There have been several promising stories in HIV research this week. First up, researchers from Yale University (CT, USA) demonstrated the effectiveness of a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) in humanized mice, observing that it suppresses the HIV virus, protects immune cells and works synergistically with available HIV medicines.

In addition, preclinical results were published for a capsule that could deliver a week’s worth of HIV drugs in a single dose, making it easier for patients to adhere to medication schedules. It was demonstrated in pig models that the capsules could successfully lodge in the stomach and release HIV drugs over the course of a week, performing equal or better than the current daily doses for HIV treatment.

Finally, a study from the National Institutes of Health (MD, USA) suggested that a short-term pause in HIV treatment in carefully monitored clinical settings does not lead to irreversible damage to the immune system, or lasting expansion of the HIV reservoir. Although a larger study is needed, these findings support the use of treatment interruption in clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of strategies to control HIV without drugs.

Clinical trials

Results from a Phase I trial were published this week, demonstrating that antibodies against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which were produced in cattle, were safe and well tolerated. Despite the small sample size in this study, the researchers hope transchromosomic cattle could be utilized to rapidly produce human antibodies against other human pathogens as well.

Drug-resistant infections

This week, research was published suggesting that a novel compound, termed SAAP-148, could present a promising drug candidate for resistant infections. The protein fragment was demonstrated to kill several multidrug resistant bacteria in vitro, in addition to effectively treating infections in mouse wounds and on samples of ex vivo human skin.

Moreover, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (VA, USA) released new guidance on January 11th advising hospitals on when they can safely discontinue contact precautions for patients with multi-drug resistant bacteria – you can view the article here.

Immune responses

Scientists from the Rockefeller University (NY, USA) have studied different strains of two major human bacterial species, reporting that each strain elicited a greatly varied acute adaptive immune response. This suggests clinical variability in infections may be a result of distinct genes between bacterial strains, and not the immune system of infected patients as previously thought.

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