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Issue No. 36 | August 24, 2012

News and Features

NIH Awards 14 Grants for Innovative HIV Vaccine Approaches

“The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded 14 grants totaling $7.8 million in first-year funding for basic research to identify new approaches for designing a safe and effective HIV vaccine. The grants were awarded under the Innovation for HIV Vaccine Discovery (IHVD) initiative, which is expected to receive up to $34.8 million over the next four years.

“‘Recent discoveries about the basic biology of HIV and how the virus adapts to its host have provided useful information and new opportunities to guide vaccine development,’ said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. ‘These grants are designed to build on that information and stimulate discovery of new ways to design a robust vaccine that prevents acquisition and establishment of latent infection.'”

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Study Examines Potential Cardiovascular Disease Risk Markers Among HIV-Infected Women Initiating HAART

“Inflammation and hemostasis perturbation may be involved in vascular complications of HIV infection. We examined atherogenic biomarkers and subclinical atherosclerosis in HIV-infected adults before and after beginning highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). …

“In the Women's Interagency HIV Study, 127 HIV-infected women studied pre and post HAART were matched to HIV-uninfected controls. …

“Relative to HIV-uninfected controls, HAART-naive HIV-infected women had elevated levels of soluble CD14 (1945 vs 1662 ng/mL, Wilcoxon signed rank P < 0.0001), TNF-α (6.3 vs 3.4 pg/mL, P < 0.0001), soluble IL-2 receptor (1587 vs 949 pg/mL, P < 0.0001), IL-10 (3.3 vs 1.9 pg/mL, P < 0.0001), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (190 vs 163 pg/mL, P < 0.0001), and D-dimer (0.43 vs 0.31 μg/mL, P < 0.01). Elevated biomarker levels declined after HAART. Although most biomarkers normalized to HIV-uninfected levels, in women on effective HAART, TNF-α levels remained elevated compared with HIV-uninfected women (+0.8 pg/mL, P = 0.0002). Higher post-HAART levels of soluble IL-2 receptor (P = 0.02), IL-6 (P = 0.05), and D-dimer (P = 0.03) were associated with increased carotid artery intima-media thickness. …

“Untreated HIV infection is associated with abnormal hemostasis (eg, D-dimer), proatherogenic (eg, TNF-α), and antiatherogenic (eg, IL-10) inflammatory markers. HAART reduces most inflammatory mediators to HIV-uninfected levels. Increased inflammation and hemostasis are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in recently treated women. These findings have potential implications for long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients, even with effective therapy.”

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