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Issue No. 23 | June 1, 2012

News and Features

NIH Scientists Identify New HIV-Suppressing Protein in the Blood of People Infected with HIV

“Scientists have identified a new HIV-suppressing protein in the blood of people infected with the virus. In laboratory studies, the protein, called CXCL4 or PF-4, binds to HIV such that it cannot attach to or enter a human cell. The research was led by Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Section of Viral Pathogenesis in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH.

“CXCL4 belongs to a family of molecules called chemokines that help regulate the movement of immune cells around the body. In the mid-1990s, four chemokines—three discovered by Dr. Lusso, Robert Gallo, M.D., and their colleagues—were found in laboratory experiments to function as HIV inhibitors. These chemokines as well as CXCL4 may regulate the level of virus replication in infected individuals and thus the pace at which HIV disease progresses. 

“According to Dr. Lusso, the site where CXCL4 binds to the outer coat of HIV seems to be different from other known vulnerable sites targeted by HIV-blocking antibodies and drugs. His team is working with scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center to define the atomic-level crystal structure of this binding site, which potentially may play a role in the future development of HIV treatments or vaccines.”  

More information is available:

NIAID “Cryptococcal Optimal ART Timing” (COAT) Study Ends Enrollment Early

“The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is ending enrollment in its 'Cryptococcal Optimal ART Timing' (COAT) study because of higher mortality rates among participants in one of the two HIV treatment arms.

“The Phase IV study began in November 2010. It was evaluating whether HIV-infected participants hospitalized with cryptococcal meningitis (CM) but not yet taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) would improve their chances of survival if they began ART while receiving CM treatment as inpatients compared with the standard practice of beginning ART as outpatients, approximately five weeks after receiving CM treatment.

“Two reviews of the COAT trial’s safety and effectiveness data last month by an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) found substaintially higher mortality rates among the 87 participants who received early ART compared with the 87 participants who received delayed HIV treatment.  For this reason, the DSMB recommended that study enrollment end immediately. As the study’s sponsor, NIAID agreed with the DSMB’s recommendation.”

More information is available:

Updated CDC “HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men” Fact Sheet and “HIV Surveillance in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)” Slide Set Now Available

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated the “HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men” fact sheet. This fact sheet provides information and statistics on diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in gay, bisexual, and other MSM. Information on prevention challenges in this population and on CDC programs focusing on HIV prevention are also included.

The CDC also recently updated the “HIV Surveillance in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)” slide set. This slide set provides statistical information on diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in MSM, broken down by transmission category, race/ethnicity, and age group.