Tuesday, April 30, 2013

HIV Reservoirs and Viral Eradication

The advent of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) more than 15 years ago has dramatically changed the outcome of HIV infection from a deadly to a chronic disease. However, patients still experience problems of compliance, resistance, toxicity and cost. Furthermore, these therapies are not available worldwide, in particular in poor-resource areas where most of HIV-infected patients live.

If plasma viremia can remain undetectable in the majority of patients taking everyday cART, HIV remains in hidden reservoirs allowing viremia to rekindle within a few weeks each time therapy is stopped.

Over the past few years major advances have been made in understanding the nature and persistence mechanisms of these HIV reservoirs. It is currently believed that HIV remains latent in some memory T cells, which have a very long life span and not affected by cART. This reservoir of a few million cells in the body is considered as the major obstacle towards HIV eradication in treated patients.

However, if a decade ago almost nobody dared to speak of curing HIV infection, scientific advances have allowed developing potential strategies for a cure, some of which have already reached clinical trials.

This renewed optimism has been spurred by 3 clinical observations:

1-The Berlin patient:

This case has been widely reported. It involves a man who developed acute leukemia during the course of HIV infection and received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a genetic mutation that protects against HIV infection. With now more than 5 years of follow-up, this patient is off cART and has not experienced viremia rebound or immune deterioration.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guarding Against Skin Cancer

Almost everyone loves to get outside and spend a few hours in the sun; however, many people do not realize the dangers that the sun presents. Although sunlight gives energy, provides people with a mental boost, and is important for Vitamin D, too much exposure can cause someone to be diagnosed with skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and although the sunlight is usually the primary cause of this cancer, other factors can also be responsible. People who have a family history of cancer, spend lots of hours in tanning beds, or have sensitive skin will be at a higher risk for developing this type of cancer. Luckily, there are several ways in which people can prevent being diagnosed with this disease.

Pay attention to medication
Many medications contain ingredients that will increase a person's chances of getting sunburns, and unfortunately, sunburns can drastically increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Therefore, people should consult with their doctors to determine if their medications will increase their sensitivity to the sunlight.

Wear sunscreen
People should always be sure to wear sunscreen daily. Even if it is a cloudy day, sunscreen should be worn. Since many experts agree that the ozone layer is weakening, people can no longer rely on natural protection against the sunlight. When choosing a sunscreen to wear, people should be sure to choose one that has at least an SPF 15 or higher. Also, people should be sure to apply the sunscreen every 30 minutes or as recommended by the label.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Common Eye Irritants

At one time or another, everyone has experienced burning eyes; an unpleasant sensation that is manifested by an irritation of the eyes. The condition most commonly affects people who wear glasses. They complain of an irritation of the eyes; which is mainly a problem when their eyes are dry. The condition may result in an itching feeling in and around the eyes; and is accompanied by discharge that is produced by the eyes.

The factors that cause the eyes to burn or itch may vary, and many factors may contribute, including; smoke, disease of the eyes, pollen, cold or flu, or even the entry of foreign substances in the eyes. The UV rays of the sun and environmental pollutants may also cause the itching and burning sensations in the eyes.

Age, medication, and disease of the eyes are the most common causes behind this uncomfortable, itching condition. In normal situations, the tears are supposed to bathe the eyes. The tears contain enzymes which aid in the digestion of any foreign microorganisms that may be trying to destroy the eye cells or tissues.

Allergies to things in the surrounding air and environment can also cause the sensation of burning eyes. Under these conditions, the body becomes overly sensitive to its own cells, and treats the cells of the body as though they are foreign cells triggering an immune reaction. To control this reaction in those who have allergies, a histamine drug intake is required. This helps control the severity of the allergic reaction of the body against its own cells, and restores order and balance in the body.