Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

HIV and AIDS

The tenofovir disoproxil fumarate intravaginal ring – or TDF-IVR, for short

According to UNAIDS, a member of the United Nations Development Group, 58 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are women. Although preventative drugs and condoms do block the transmission of HIV, neither are always practical, available or affordable in developing nations. Help could be on its way, however, in the form of an anti-HIV intravaginal ring that is worn continuously for up to 30 days.  Read More

Scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University have announced a positive step towa...

A very promising vaccine candidate for HIV/AIDS has shown the ability to completely clear the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a very aggressive form of HIV that leads to AIDS in monkeys. Developed at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), the vaccine proved successful in about fifty percent of the subjects tested and could lead to a human vaccine preventing the onset of HIV/AIDS and even cure patients currently on anti-retroviral drugs.  Read More

A modified form of a protein found in the HIV virus (pictured) has been shown to keep that...

Although there is still much work to do before human trials can even be considered, a scientist from Australia’s Queensland Institute of Medical Research has created a protein that reportedly keeps HIV from progressing into AIDS. Perhaps ironically, that protein is a mutated form of one found in the HIV virus itself.  Read More

An electron microscope image of the fabric, complete with blocked sperm

While condoms are the only things that protect against both unwanted pregnancies and HIV, a lot of people aren’t big fans of stopping to put them on. Additionally, women are sometimes put in an awkward role, needing to pressure the man to use the thing – although female condoms certainly do exist, their bulkiness makes them rather unpopular. Now, however, a team of scientists from the University of Washington are working on a type of dissolvable fabric that could be used by women both for contraception and HIV protection.  Read More

Dr. Marit Kramski (left) and colleagues Behnaz Heydarchi and Rob Center, with bags of froz...

Despite the misgivings that many people have surrounding cow’s milk, it is a good source of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Now, thanks to scientists at Melbourne University, special milk may also be used to protect people from HIV. Working with the Australian biotechnology company Immuron Ltd, a team led by Dr. Marit Kramski has vaccinated pregnant cows with an HIV protein – the first milk that those animals produced after giving birth contained HIV-disabling antibodies.  Read More

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the prophylactic use of the antiviral d...

While there are many methods for preventing HIV transmission that work in principle (abstinence, safe sex, monogamy to some extent), in practice efforts to prevent new HIV infections have reached a plateau - about 50 thousand new cases are reported every year in the United States and no progress has been made on reducing this number for at least 15 years, with the overall rate of infection remaining stable since at least 2004. In response to the almost complete lack of effective prevention methods, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has now approved the prophylactic use of the anti-retroviral combination drug Truvada, to reduce the risk of people acquiring HIV.  Read More

The FDA has approved an over-the-counter HIV that takes just 20 minutes (Photo: Shuttersto...

One of the biggest problems in fighting the spread of AIDS has always been convincing people to have themselves tested regularly. Unfortunately, getting someone to take a trip to a clinic isn't always easy, particularly in areas where there aren't many options for discreet testing. In a development that could leap right over this privacy hurdle, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just unanimously approved an over-the-counter HIV test that enables people to test themselves in their own home and receive results in just 20 minutes.  Read More

Scientists have used genetically engineered stem cells to seek out and kill HIV-infected c...

Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the body does already contain cells that fight the virus – the problem is, there just aren’t enough of them to completely get rid of it. In 2009, scientists at UCLA performed a proof-of-concept experiment, in which they were able to grow these CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (better known as infection-fighting “T cells”) from genetically engineered human stem cells. Now, in a subsequent study, they have demonstrated that these engineered cells can seek out and kill HIV-infected cells in a living organism.  Read More

The MVA-B vaccine draws on the natural capabilities of the human immune system to combat t...

Researchers at the Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council (CSIC) have successfully completed Phase I human clinical trials of a HIV vaccine that came out with top marks after 90% of volunteers developed an immunological response against the virus. The MVA-B vaccine draws on the natural capabilities of the human immune system and “has proven to be as powerful as any other vaccine currently being studied, or even more", says Mariano Esteban, head researcher from CSIC's National Biotech Centre.  Read More

This tiny microfluidic device uses carbon nanotubes 30 microns in diameter to separate can...

A cross-discipline project that brings together biomedicine and nano-engineering has led to the development of a dime-sized microfluidic device that can rapidly detect cancer cells in a blood sample. The new device is based on a cancer cell-detector created four years ago by Mehmet Toner, professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard Medical School. In its latest incarnation, carbon nanotubes have been introduced into the design resulting in an eight-fold improvement in the collection of cells.  Read More

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