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Top 5 Contagion&reg News Articles for the Week of December 10, 2017

In case you missed them, we've compiled the top 5 articles from this past week.

#5: Study Examines the Impact of Delaying ART in Patients Diagnosed With HIV

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there were approximately 36.7 million individuals worldwide living with HIV at the end of 2016. In addition, there were 1.8 million new cases of HIV infection in that same year; around 1 million individuals perished as a result of HIV-related complications.

The WHO also estimates that by mid-2017, there were 20.9 million individuals worldwide who were receiving HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART). In a study published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, lead investigator Sophie Novelli and her colleagues set out to determine the consequences of delaying HIV infection diagnosis. Previous work has shown that receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) during primary HIV infection (PHI) reduces viral infectivity, limits depletion of CD4+ T-lymphocytes, and reduces viral load.

Read more about the study, here.

#4: New Dental Filling Material Fights Bacteria

New approaches to antimicrobial treatment are taking shape not only in doctors’ offices and hospitals, but in dental practices too. To this end, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania say they’ve developed a novel dental material that is infused with an antimicrobial compound.

Good oral hygiene involves the use of dental care products with fluoride, drinking fluoridated water, regular visits to the dentist, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding tobacco products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oral disease such as cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer—which arises from poor oral hygiene—leads to an estimated $113 billion dollars in dental care costs each year in the United States.

For more about the dental material, go here.

#3: HHS Tick-Borne Disease Working Group Begins Efforts Despite Controversies: Public Health Watch

Call it “tick bait” instead of “click bait.”

Even though the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group only held its first public meetings in Washington, DC on December 11-12, 2017, the new entity, which operates under the auspices of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has already generated plenty of eye-grabbing headlines.

Indeed, prior to the Working Group’s formation, the patient advocacy organization lymedisease.org launched a change.org petition seeking to have Gary P. Wormser, MD, chief, division of infectious diseases and vice chairman, department of medicine at New York Medical College, excluded as a potential member. At issue: Alleged conflicts of interest related to Dr. Wormser’s financial ties to manufacturers of diagnostics and pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of Lyme disease.

Read the rest of the Public Health Watch, here.

#2: Early Warning Signs of Infectious Disease Outbreaks Appear on Social Media First

Do you want to know when the next vaccine-preventable outbreak will hit? You might want to check social media, according to a new study from investigators at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, who determined that predicting the next outbreak may be possible by analyzing trends on Twitter and Google.

Whether they love social media or hate it, the truth is that many adults utilize the platform for the latest news. According to a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, about 62% of US adults get their news on social media. The nature of social media being what it is, this news is accompanied by commentary from social media users, anxious to share their opinions on the topics at hand. In a perfect world, one would be able to separate the news from opinion; however, these lines have become increasingly blurred to the point that bias has even leaked into “real news outlets” spurning the birth of sensationalism and “fake news.”

Read more here.

#1: Study Finds No Benefit for HIV Therapeutic Vaccine Following ART Interruption

A therapeutic vaccination protocol designed to maximize immunogenicity in antiretroviral therapy (ART)-experienced patients following acute or early HIV infection failed to maintain suppression of viremia or reduce the size of the reservoir of “persistently infected” CD4+ T cells, 2 key markers for its efficacy, a study published December 6, 2017, in the journal Science Translational Medicine(STM) confirmed.

However, notable findings of the research project, led by a team of scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and clinicians from across North America, may provide a roadmap for future analyses of immune-based interventions seeking to relieve HIV patients of the lifelong burden of daily medication intake—an important consideration given the long-term toxicity associated with ART regimens—and enhance viral suppression.

Study co-author Tae-Wook Chun, PhD, Chief, HIV Immunovirology Unit at NIAID/NIH told Contagion® that the observations made from the patients enrolled in the study could ultimately help identify “types of immune-based interventions aimed at augmenting vaccine-induced anti-HIV T cell responses [including] combining therapeutic vaccination with immune checkpoint inhibitors—such as anti-PD1 or anti-PD1 ligand—or immune stimulants such as Toll-like receptor 7 antagonists.

For the STM study, Dr. Chun and colleagues tested a strategy featuring a plasmid DNA vaccine containing genes encoding multiple HIV proteins—including clade B gag/pol and nef/tat/vif and env—which was then boosted with a live attenuated viral vector containing the HIV gag gene.

Read more about the study, here.