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Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—May 6, 2018

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

#5: National Cancer Institute Analysis Reveals New Cancer Risks Among Adults With HIV

New antiretroviral therapies (ART) mean patients are living with HIV—and living longer.

However, even as improved screening and risk-management approaches slowly reduce the incidence of cancer among those who are HIV-positive, various forms of the disease will continue to be a significant concern, at least according to the findings of an analysis performed by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and published on May 8th by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Indeed, their work suggests that cancers not previously associated with HIV/AIDS—so-called non-AIDS-defining cancers—such as prostate and lung cancers will be the most common cancers among those “aging with HIV” by 2030.

Read more about cancer risks among adults with HIV.

#4: Significant Enrollment Milestone Met in Phase 3 Trial of Novavax’s RSV Vaccine

Novavax, a clinical-stage biotechnology company, has just announced that it has reached a significant enrollment milestone for their clinical phase 3 trial, dubbed Prepare, regarding their vaccine candidate for the prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants via maternal immunization.

A total of 4,600 healthy, pregnant women in their third trimester have been enrolled in the global Prepare trial, which was first initiated in December 2015; to date, at least 3,000 of participants have received the RSV F protein recombinant nanoparticle vaccine (RSV F Vaccine).

Read more about Novavax’s RSV vaccine.

#3: Ibrutinib Linked to Serious Infections in Patients with Lymphoid Cancer

The tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib may be associated with serious infections in patients with lymphoid cancer, a recent study published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests.

“We found an 11.4% incidence of serious infections among patients with lymphoid cancer who received ibrutinib therapy,” write Tilly Varughese, MD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, New York, and colleagues.

“Serious bacterial infections were observed in 6.1% of ibrutinib recipients, and IFI developed in 4.2%.”

Ibrutinib is a small molecule inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) that has been effectively used to treat various lymphoid cancers; it binds to and irreversibly inhibits BTK and blocks downstream B-cell receptor activation.

Read more about ibrutinib.

#2: How Close Are We to a Cure for HIV? An Update One Year Later

The trajectory of HIV has changed dramatically in just a few decades. Back in the early days of the epidemic, contracting HIV basically meant progressing to full-blown AIDS and death. Now, thanks to antiretroviral drugs and other therapies, individuals with HIV often can keep the virus at bay, avoid infecting others and live a normal lifespan. But while HIV has moved from a guaranteed death sentence to a chronic condition that can be kept at bay, a permanent cure has, thus far, eluded researchers.

The first step toward figuring out how far we’ve progressed toward a cure, according to experts, is to define it. “What do you mean by a cure?” asked Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If by cure you mean eradicating the virus, there hasn’t been much progress made.”

Read more about how close we are to a cure for HIV.

#1: Universal Influenza Vaccine Candidate to Begin Clinical Trial in United States

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – has announced that it is sponsoring a Phase 2 clinical trial in the United States of an investigational universal influenza vaccine, developed to protect against multiple strains of the flu.

Following the 2017-2018 flu season in the United States, in which the country saw influenza-like illness reach their highest levels since the swine flu pandemic of 2009, public health officials have emphasized the need for a more effective influenza vaccine. In February 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported interim estimates showing that the flu shot was about 36% effective overall at preventing flu illness from both influenza A and B viruses. In recent years, researchers have linked low flu vaccine effectiveness to egg-based vaccine production, finding that vaccine components for influenza A (H3N2) are prone to mutation when grown in eggs. H3N2 influenza dominated during much of the 2017-2018 season, causing a severe flu season which resulted in a reported 163 flu-related pediatric deaths.

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that cell-based flu vaccines were about 20% more effective than egg-based vaccines at preventing flu illness. In February 2018, NIAID announced its plan to develop a universal flu vaccine capable of offering broad protection against many strains of flu for multiple flu seasons, to replace the seasonal flu shot. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill that month to fund the effort with $1 billion contributed over 5 years. On May 4, 2018, NIAID announced that it has begun a Phase 2 clinical trial of an experimental universal flu vaccine, known as M-001.

Israeli-based BiondVax Pharmaceuticals has developed and produced the M-001 flu vaccine candidate, which contains antigenic peptide sequences shared among many different influenza viruses. The experimental vaccine has been designed to offer protection from both current and emerging strains of the influenza virus, even the natural virus mutations that render the seasonal flu vaccine as ineffective. In 6 previous clinical trials involving 698 participants, BiondVax found that M-001 was safe, well-tolerated, and produced an immune response to a broad range of influenza strains.

Learn more about the universal flu vaccine candidate.