We moved closer than ever this year toward finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. Innovations included a new test to accurately measure the amount of HIV in your blood, a neutralizing antibody, new vaccine clinical trials, gene-editing technology, new apps -- even new condoms! We can conquer HIV/AIDS in our lifetime!
New HIV Test Comes Via USB Stick
Scientists in the UK have now developed a USB stick that quickly and accurately measures the amount of HIV in a patient's blood. According to an article in Gizmodo, the medical device was created at Imperial College London and the tech firm DNA Electronics. Just use a simple drop of blood to measure HIV-1 levels. The device sense the HIV-1 virus through a change in acidity levels. A mobile phone chip in the USB stick concerts this info into an electrical signal that is fed into your computer or handheld device.
Experimental HIV Vaccine Starts Large-Scale Clinical Trial
This November, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the HIV Prevention Trials Network kicked off HVTN 704/HPTN 085, also known as Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP), a Phase 2b clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of VRC01, a broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibody (bnAb) vaccine. AMP is the first study to evaluate whether bnAbs are effective in reducing acquisition of HIV-1 infection among at risk populations.
"Injections or infusions of antibodies to prevent acquisition of an infectious disease have been utilized in medicine for decades," said Larry Corey, M.D., study chairperson for HVTN 704/HPTN 085 and principal investigator for the HVTN. "The remarkable advance in technologies to isolate and manufacture human monoclonal antibodies in concentrations high enough to potentially prevent HIV is a major advance and provides the underlying principle for our enthusiasm for these trials."
Charlie Sheen Endorses LELO HEX Condom
Charlie Sheen joined forces with the world-leading pleasure brand LELO to unveil what experts describe as one of the most important innovations in sexual health for 70 years: LELO HEX™, the Condom Re-Engineered.
"Announcing my HIV condition gave me a new sense of purpose in speaking actively on sexual health. That's why LELO HEX™ is such an important project for me," said Sheen. "Not only is it a revolutionary product that is ready to go -- it's something radically different that can help curb the rise of STIs and reduce the stigma on condom usage. If you want to change how people see condoms -- a great place to start is by changing the condom itself!"
LELO HEX™ launched globally June 14 on LELO.com, commencing a two-month 'HEX Appeal' project that aims to "revolutionize the world of condoms for good." For this period, up to 10,000 backers are able to order LELO HEX™ before anyone else, with Charlie Sheen endorsing the project as the first major innovation in condoms for 70 years.
HIV Breakthrough: Antibody Neutralizes 98 Percent Strains of the Virus
Scientists have made a significant breakthrough in discovering an antibody that neutralizes 98 percent strains of the virus. In an article, the research team at the National Institutes of Health found that the antibody N6 can neutralize 16 of the 20 strains of HIV that have thus far resisted all kinds of medications.
The discovery is the most promising to date, and comes after decades of failed attempts to neutralize the virus, which changes surface proteins quickly to evade recognition.
Study Finds Anti-AIDS Vaginal Ring Partially Protects Women
In a new approach to HIV prevention, women modestly reduced their risk of infection by inserting a vaginal ring coated with an anti-AIDS drug once a month, according to two long-awaited studies from Africa. The ring proved safe although it cut HIV infections by less than a third overall, researchers reported Monday. But surprisingly, it worked far better in women 25 and older, leaving researchers wondering if the youngest women, who got little to no benefit, simply didn't use the device properly.
"For a woman to have a prevention tool that she can control is an incredibly important goal," said Dr. Jared Baeten of the University of Washington, who led a National Institutes of Health-funded study of the ring. "I want rings, pills and other strategies to be on the shelf for women so they can make choices for what's going to work for them."
Indiegogo Crowdfunds Mately App, To Share HIV/STI Results
With the high rates of HIV infections and STis among men who have sex with men, it can be difficult to know how to keep safe. Still, nearly three-quarters of MSM aged 18-39 using dating apps to hook up. Now, for a small fee and monthly membership, the app Mately will not only post your bill of health on their website, but also provide the early-detection HIV tests for you to use in the privacy of your own home.
"As a Mately member, each time you are tested, you are presented with a full report of your results. You can share these results by posting them on your member profile and granting access to other members," explained CEO and Founder Brandon Greenberg. "All members are required to display an accurate HIV status, if they wish to use the result-sharing function, and can elect to display results for additional conditions they've been tested for. Click here.
HIV Biologic Antiretroviral Ibalizumab Decreases Viral Load
Theratechnologies Inc. announced additional results related to the primary endpoint of the ibalizumab Phase III pivotal study, TMB-301. Patients with multi-drug resistant (MDR) HIV-1 experienced a significant decrease in viral load after receiving a loading dose of ibalizumab 2,000 mg intravenously (IV) in addition to their failing antiretroviral therapies (ART) (or no therapy), according to new data from the TMB-301 study presented by Theratechnologies' partner, TaiMed Biologics, in an oral presentation at IDWeek 2016TM. A total of 40 patients were enrolled in the study. Seven days after the loading dose, 83 percent of patients achieved a 0.5 log10 decrease from baseline compared with three percent during the seven-day control period. Click here.
New HIV Vaccine Trials to Start in South Africa
A new vaccine against HIV, to be tested in a trial to be launched in South Africa Wednesday, could be "the final nail in the coffin" for the disease if it is successful, scientists say. The study, called HVTN 702, aims to enroll 5,400 sexually active men and women aged between 18 and 35 at 15 sites across South Africa. It will be the largest and most advanced HIV vaccine clinical trial to take place in South Africa, where more than 1,000 people a day are infected with HIV.
"If deployed alongside our current armory of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV," Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said in a statement released ahead of the trial. Click here.
Treatment-Weary HIV+ Undetectables Could Skip Pills
A new study presented at the International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection shows that HIV-positive people with undetectable viral loads maintained viral suppression even after missing a few days of treatment. In an article in HIV Plus, David Artavia writes that a French pilot study has shown that treatment-weary pozzers could exchange their daily dose of HIV meds with a four-day on, three-day off routine, without compromising viral suppression. It could also yield significant savings on HIV meds. Click here.
Gene-Editing Technology: A Game Changer for HIV Cure Research?
A report from amfAR shows that researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and its affiliated Gladstone Institutes, are using a cutting-edge gene-editing tool known as CRISPR to identify mutations that make immune cells resistant to HIV. The team, which includes new Krim fellow Dr. Judd Hultquist, developed a high-throughput cell-editing platform using a variant of CRISPR/Cas9 technology to modify genes in immune cells to determine which ones successfully resisted HIV infection. High-throughput platforms enable researchers to use automated techniques to greatly increase the number of samples they can test.
Novel Strategy Greatly Reduces HIV Transmission In Couples
Providing HIV medication to both members of a HIV-serodiscordant couple substantially reduced the risk of transmission within that couple, according to a study published Aug. 23 in PLOS Medicine. The researchers examined the feasibility and acceptability of a program in Kenya and Uganda to offer medications to 1,013 couples in which one member is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. Click here.
Anti-HIV Mobile App For Young Gay And Bi Men Gets Funding
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $7.9 million grant to the Columbia University School of Nursing to test an HIV prevention mobile app specifically developed for high-risk young men. In the five-year project, Columbia researchers will adapt and test a new mobile version of MyPEEPS, an existing HIV education intervention that covers topics including correct condom use, dealing with stigma and shame, and communicating effectively about safer sex. Click here.
First Patient Enrolled Under Newly Modified Protocol in CytoDyn's Phase 3 PRO 140 Combination Study in HIV
CytoDyn Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of new antibody therapies for combating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, announces the enrollment of the first patient under a recently modified protocol in the Company's Phase 3 combination study with PRO 14O (humanized monoclonal antibody to CCR5). The modified protocol has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and features a 50 percent reduction in enrollment to 150 subjects and relaxed enrollment criteria allowing HIV-infected subjects to enter the study before confirmation of the R5 strain. Click here.
Grindr Can Be An Effective Way To Distribute At-Home HIV Testing Kits
A study led by researchers from UCLA found that the gay social and sexual networking app Grindr is an effective means through which to distribute HIV self-testing kits among men who have sex with men who have a high risk for contracting the virus. The study found that advertising placed on the app has a high potential to reach untested high-risk populations and reduce the spread of HIV. Men who responded to the offer to use the self-test kit had a high risk for HIV infection and were more likely to have been tested infrequently in the past. Click here.
Promising Cancer-Fighting Gene Immunotherapy Could Be Used Against HIV, UCLA Research Suggests
New UCLA research suggests that a gene-based immunotherapy that has shown promising results against cancer could also be used against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Recently discovered potent antibodies can be used to generate chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, that can be used to kill cells infected with HIV-1. CARs are artificially created immune T-cells that have been engineered to produce receptors on their surface that are designed to target and kill specific cells containing viruses or tumor proteins. The use of these chimeric receptors is currently the focus of gene immunotherapy against cancer, but they could also be used to create a strong immune response against HIV, said Dr. Otto Yang, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's corresponding author.
Eliminating HIV is Possible; Danish Researchers Explain How
Worldwide, about 35 million people are living with HIV. The World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS plan to use an approach called "treatment as prevention" to eliminate the global pandemic, which the WHO says will have occurred when only one person out of 1,000 becomes infected each year. Now, a nearly two-decade analysis by researchers from UCLA and Denmark yields the first proof that the approach could work. Reviewing Danish medical records, they found that the treatment-as-prevention strategy has brought Denmark's HIV epidemic to the brink of elimination. The study found that in 2013, the country had only 1.4 new HIV infections per 1,000 men who have sex with men, Denmark's major risk group.
"The Danes have done what nobody else in the world has been able to do," said Sally Blower, the study's senior author and the director of the Center for Biomedical Modeling at UCLA. "They have almost eliminated their HIV epidemic, and they have achieved this simply by providing treatment." Click here.