“Results from a groundbreaking trial of three drugs given in combination — one of them completely new and one not yet licensed for this use — killed more than 99 percent of patients’ [tuberculosis (TB)] bacteria after two weeks of treatment,” and the combination “appears to be equally effective on drug-resistant TB,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 7/23). The combination “comprises a candidate TB drug called PA-824, the antibiotic moxifloxacin not yet approved for TB therapy, and an existing TB drug, pyrazinamide,” Agence France-Presse writes, noting the combination is called PaMZ (7/23). “Because the combination doesn’t contain isoniazid or rifampicin, the two main medicines used against TB, it also may provide a much-needed weapon against strains that fail to succumb to those drugs and are spreading, the researchers wrote,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Bennett, 7/23). The Phase II study, which was presented on Monday at the International AIDS Conference in Washington and published in the Lancet, “needs to be confirmed in larger and longer trials,” according to Reuters (Steenhuysen, 7/23).
In this post in the Results for Development Institute’s “Center for Global Health R&D Policy Assessment” blog, Aarthi Rao, a program officer at the institute, examines whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs within Indian pharmaceutical companies can help fight neglected diseases. “Corporate giving amongst Indian pharmaceutical firms is still in its infancy and will likely evolve in the coming years as the industry continues to grow,” the she writes, adding, “As the breadth of social initiatives increases, it will be interesting to watch whether the social arms of firms will join their business counterparts in increasing the availability of neglected disease technologies” (7/23).
Susan Blumenthal, public health editor at Huffington Post and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, an Allan Rosenfield Health Policy Fellow with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research in Washington, write in the Huffington Post Blog that the International AIDS Conference, held in Washinton this week, “will highlight opportunities for achieving an AIDS-free generation.” They add, “Of great concern right now is that the remarkable progress toward ending AIDS that has been made over the past decades is being threatened by a decline in resources and the threat of budget cuts to support HIV research and services worldwide.” They conclude, “If we are going to eradicate AIDS in America and worldwide, then a global strategic plan for achieving an HIV-free generation is needed that mobilizes all sectors of society across countries, scales up interventions that work to reach more people, makes programs more efficient and accountable, and invests in research to accelerate progress in ending HIV/AIDS, including intensifying efforts to discover both a cure and a vaccine” (7/23).
AVAC, previously known as the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, and amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, “have published ‘An Action Agenda to End AIDS’ [.pdf] — a combination of short- and long-term goals â€¦ to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” VOA News reports, noting, “The report is being released ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington.” The news service highlights several scientific advancements made in the last several years and writes that, according to the agenda, “making the hard choices,” as well as “‘mobilizing sufficient, sustainable resources’ to ensure that critical interventions are scaled-up and not cut back,” are essential steps to ending the epidemic” (De Capua, 7/20). The report “was informed by an analysis of modeling research and consultations with top HIV prevention experts,” a joint press release notes (7/23).
The XIX International AIDS Conference opened in Washington, D.C., on Sunday and “is expected to draw 25,000 people, including politicians, scientists and activists, as well as some of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV who will tell their stories,” Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 7/22). “Researchers, doctors and patients attending the world’s largest AIDS conference are urging the world’s governments not to cut back on the fight against the epidemic when it is at a turning point,” the Associated Press writes, adding, “There is no cure or vaccine yet, but scientists say they have the tools to finally stem the spread of this intractable virus — largely by using treatment not just to save patients but to make them less infectious, too” (Neergaard, 7/22). “New breakthroughs in research will be announced, as will new efforts by governments and organizations to reduce the spread of HIV, to treat those who have it, and to work, eventually, toward a vaccine and a cure,” the Seattle Times writes (Tate, 7/22). According to the Washington Post’s “Blog Post,” three remaining challenges to be addressed at the conference include: “More research into treatment and prevention, and more ways to deliver treatments”; reaching marginalized populations, such as men who have sex with men and sex workers; and “[i]ncreasing funding for PEPFAR and other anti-AIDS programs” (Khazan, 7/20).
The International AIDS Society (IAS) on Thursday in Washington, D.C., “released what they call a road map for research toward a cure for HIV — a strategy for global teams of scientists to explore a number of intriguing leads that just might, years from now, pan out,” the Associated Press reports (Neergaard, 7/20). “The … scientific strategy focuses efforts on key areas such as the reservoirs where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) holes up in the body, and the small number of people worldwide who seem to have some natural resistance,” Agence France-Presse writes (Sheridan, 7/19). “The new strategy outlines seven main priorities for research straddling basic, translational, and clinical science if either a ‘sterilizing cure,’ which permanently removes the virus, or a ‘functional cure,’ which controls it for years without drugs, is to be found,” the Lancet notes (Corbyn, 7/20).
Scientists Plan To Announce Research Strategy Aimed At Pursuing HIV/AIDS Cure, Wall Street Journal Reports
On July 19, ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., “prominent AIDS scientists plan to announce the first comprehensive research strategy aimed at pursuing new leads and addressing hurdles to a cure” for HIV/AIDS, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The announcement of the initiative will be followed by a two-day symposium on cure research,” the newspaper continues, noting, “Recent research has offered a glimpse of paths to a cure. That promise, together with breakthroughs in preventing transmission of the disease, is spurring optimism that the epidemic, which kills about 1.7 million people a year, can eventually be brought under control.” The newspaper highlights several cases and studies on prevention and treatment (McKay/Winslow, 7/18). The Associated Press/Washington Post features a video examining some of the research (Bradley, 7/19).
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), in which she discusses a study of a vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral (ARV) dapivirine. The study, which “has been launched in Africa, mark[s] a step forward in the development of HIV protection for and under control of women,” the blog notes. Rosenberg addresses the importance of finding a female-controlled HIV prevention option, why women are more susceptible to HIV infection, and her motivation for becoming involved in HIV research, among other issues, according to the blog (Judem, 7/18).
The goal of an “AIDS-free generation” “requires an ambitious implementation-science agenda that improves efficiency and effectiveness and incorporates strategies for overcoming the stigma and discrimination that continue to limit the uptake and utilization of [treatment, prevention and care] services,” AIDS 2012 Co-Chair Diane Havlir of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research write in a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece. They note that “[r]esearch efforts on HIV vaccines will also probably be key, and the field has been reinvigorated” by recent study results. “A combination approach to prevention that includes HIV treatment can generate tremendous gains in the short term by curtailing new HIV infections, but ending the AIDS epidemic will probably require a vaccine, a cure, or both,” they write.
Jennifer Furin, an infectious diseases physician and medical anthropologist who specializes in the management of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV in resource-poor settings, writes in a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog that “when it comes to the great advancements made in global HIV and TB care, children are being left behind.” She continues, “All children with HIV and TB deserve access to diagnosis and treatment, and the death of even a single child from either one of these diseases signifies a global failure. … It is time to require that pediatric formulations of TB and HIV medications be developed.” She notes that StopTB.org will host a talk show on July 22 featuring women and young people who have been affected by TB and HIV (7/17).