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Researchers discover new treatment for drug-resistant HIV

Scientists at the Miriam Hospital found that patients with drug-resistant strains of HIV can suppress the virus through treatment plans that do not include the typical HIV drugs, GoLocalProv reported last week. The research was led by Professor of Medicine Karen Tashima, who serves as the director of the HIV Clinical Trials Program at the hospital.

Patients with HIV are typically treated with drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, GoLocalProv reported.

But “some patients have developed within-class resistance, making the NRTIs less effective overall. Therefore, drugs from this class may not be needed if the new treatment plan contains more effective medications,” Tashima said in the article.

More than 400 HIV patients participated in the study, GoLocalProv reported. Half of the study participants were treated with both NRTIs and different types of drugs, while half received only the different drugs.

Genes linked to preterm birth

Nineteen different genetic pathways may be associated with preterm birth, according to a study led by researchers at Brown and Women and Infants Hospital, published in the March issue of the journal Genomics.

One in eight women gives birth to preterm infants — meaning the infants are born at less than 37 weeks of gestation — creating “enormous clinical, economic and psychological burdens,” according to the study.

Most interventions to prevent preterm birth have been aimed at “common pathways associated with labor,” like cervical ripening, the researchers wrote. But these have been largely ineffective.

Previous research has identified genes associated with preterm birth, but understanding its cause requires determining how those different genes interact with each other and with “environmental triggers,” according to the study.

The researchers conducted computational analyses on both genes that had previously been associated with preterm birth and entire genomes. They identified 19 genetic pathways that may cause mothers to give birth before 30 weeks of gestation.

“These results provide important confirmation of the role of genetic architecture in the risk of preterm birth,” the researchers wrote in the study, though they added that their results should be considered a hypothesis, as they have not yet been replicated.

Protein limits effects of sperm-destroyer

A specific protein may inhibit a gene that destroys variations of sperm, according to a new study led by Selena Gell Ph.D.’12 and published in the journal Genetics earlier this month.

Researchers have previously examined the effects of a specific gene known as the segregation distorter, which targets sperm with genetic information different from its own. SD prevents the different sperm cells from dividing, according to a University press release.

“This is a real cheater, a real stinker,” said Robert Reenan, professor of biology and senior author of the study, in the press release. “Most genes, like most people, are good, upstanding citizens, but some genes want to hog all the resources, hog all the benefit.”

A specific piece of genetic code called “Responder” makes the variations of sperm that SD targets even more susceptible to damage.

The researchers knew that a specific protein called Aubergine inhibits the effects of Responder, which led them to hypothesize that it might also affect SD. In their study, the researchers mutated Aubergine in fruit flies and found that the mutation in the protein enhanced the success of SD. This led the researchers to conclude that Aubergine limits the negative effects of SD through its interaction with Responder.


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