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Experimental HIV vaccine to be tested on humans next year

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An experimental HIV vaccine — which is safely used to protect animals from dozens of strains of HIV and triggered strong immune responses in healthy adults and monkeys — will soon be tested on humans, researchers said.

Researchers say the vaccine targets a vulnerable part of the virus that causes AIDS and triggers antibody production in mice, guinea pigs, and monkeys.

Scientists are making refinements to the vaccine, such as boosting its potency to produce a version suitable for testing in people.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center hope to start a human trial of the vaccine next year. They say it also protected two-thirds of monkeys against an HIV-like virus.

Though results of animal studies are not always the same in humans, researchers are encouraged by this early-stage study, which included nearly 400 healthy people.

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For their next step, they are launching a new vaccine trial that will include 2,600 women in southern Africa who are at risk of HIV infection. The experimental HIV-1 vaccine is one of five that have progressed to tests of effectiveness in humans.

While previous experimental HIV-1 vaccines have usually been limited to specific regions of the world, this vaccine combines different HIV viruses. The aim is to trigger immune responses against a wide variety of HIV strains, according to authors of the study published in The Lancet medical journal.

“These results should be interpreted cautiously,” study leader Dr Dan Barouch said in a journal news release, adding,” The challenges in the development of an HIV vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily indicate that a vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection.”

Barouch is director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and also a professor at Harvard Medical School.

With Agency Inputs

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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk

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A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.

According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.

Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.

The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.

Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.

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“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.

Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.

Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.

With Inputs from HealthDay

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