New TB vaccine shows promise, Stop TB Partnership puts on a new face, and more…

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The following is a collection of recent articles and news pieces making headlines in HIV/TB:

TB Vaccine shows promise in preventing latent and active TB in Mice: Scientists from the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen have developed a multistage vaccination strategy that has successfully protected mice from both active and latent TB infection. There is currently only one vaccine available for TB – Bacille Calmette Guerin – and it is most effective in children. Authors say the new strategy needs further exploration in humans. They present their research in the article, “A multistage tuberculosis vaccine that confers efficient protection before and after exposure,” published Jan. 23 on the journal Nature Medicine’s website.

Stop TB Partnership puts on a new face: According to a press release, a new executive secretary is taking the reins at the Stop TB Partnership – Dr. Lucica Ditiu, a physician and researcher originally from Romania, with a rich history of involvement in TB care and treatment.  In January 2010 she joined the partnership to lead the TB REACH Initiative, with the goal of improving access to TB treatment. U.S.-based TB advocates will have an opportunity to meet Ditiu when the United Nations’ STOP TB Partnership Coordinating Board meets in Washington, DC, March 31-April 1, 2011.

Scientists map out complete structure of HIV’s outer shell: Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Virginia have plotted a key structure that HIV uses to infect cells, which might help lead the way for a host of new drugs to treat HIV infection. This is considered the first detailed description of the complete protein package within HIV. Authors of the study hope to use the map of the cone-shaped “capsid” or outer shell, which is responsible for transporting genetic material into the host cell once its receptors have attached to the cell’s surface, with computer programs to find weak points in the surface structure. This might offer targets for future drug development.  An article detailing the atomic-level modeling of the HIV capsid appears in the Jan. 19 issue of the journal Nature.

Risk of stroke increasing among HIV positives: A scientist from the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues analyzed medical records from 1997 – 2007, and found that while hospitalizations due to stroke for the general U.S. population declined by seven percent, they increased by approximately 60 percent for HIV-infected individuals. The study authors said the uptick likely has something to do with the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART,  in that same time period, but warn more research needs to be done to determine exactly why strokes are increasing in this population and to see if this pattern is occurring in other countries as well. The article “Increasing incidence of ischemic stroke in patients with HIV infection” appears in the current issue of the journal Neurology.

Three-drug regimen halves risk of HIV transmission during breastfeeding: Earlier this month Lancet Infectious Diseases published a study by a team of researchers at the World Health Organization examining whether a prophylaxis with a three-drug combination can safely replace older drug regimens used in Africa for reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV during breastfeeding. The regimen combining zidovudine (AZT), lamivudine and lopinavir boosted with ritonavir – when taken twice daily starting 28 to 32 weeks into the pregnancy and on until 6.5 months of breastfeeding – was found to halve the risk of MTCT. It also provided a 53 percent lower risk of transmission during breastfeeding than the standard regimen of AZT twice daily for a similar time period plus single-does nevirapine during labor.

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