Scientific Updates

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Here are some quick summaries of technological newsmakers from the past week:

  • Two cancer drugs stop HIV in its tracks: Using a mixture of two anti-cancer drugs already on the market, researchers at the University of Minnesota say they have found a promising new treatment for HIV. During lab experiments with mice,” the drugs gemcitabine and decitabine caused the HIV virus to “mutate itself to death, researchers said. The drugs are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of other diseases, and researchers say the study sheds light on a new way of attacking the virus without causing toxic side effects.  It will be some time before the treatment is available to humans.


  • HIV hides in the brain: New findings in studies of the spinal fluid of patients treated with antiretrovirals suggest that the brain can act as a hiding place for HIV, perhaps suggesting more needs to be done in the HIV drug development arena to incorporate how these treatments affect HIV in the brain. A thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed about 10 percent of patients had traces of virus in their spinal fluid but not in their blood – a larger proportion than previously realized.  


  • Blood test for TB might soon be a reality:  Scientists have found a “genetic signature” in the blood of patients with active tuberculosis, which could help with the development of a blood test for the disease as well as better treatments. More than 2 billion people worldwide are estimated to be infected with tuberculosis, the majority of who are asymptomatic.  The test would distinguish the 10 percent of people infected with TB who will go on to develop the full-blown disease from the 90 percent of healthy carriers who have the latent, asymptomatic form of the lung infection.  The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Nature


  • Vitamin A increases HIV MTCT during breastfeeding: Vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements should be avoided by HIV-positive women who are breastfeeding. That’s according to a new article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition. The supplements might boost the excretion of HIV in breast milk, increasing the chances of transmitting the virus to the infant.

Stay tuned to ScienceSpeaks for regular scientific updates.

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