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The 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI): Los Angeles, February 25th-28th.

The 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Opportunistic infections

Infections that cause a disease only when the host's immune system is impaired. The classic opportunistic infection never leads to disease in the normal host.
 (CROI CROI Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections ), held in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  from February 25th to the 28th, is one of the biggest HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States.  science conferences held each year. As in past years, the Years, The

the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]

See : Time
 world's leading researchers presented their findings from work they have been doing to understand, prevent, and treat HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome  and its complications. Continuing our tradition at The Center for AIDS, this issue of HIV Treatment ALERTS! provides our readers with a snapshot of some very exciting studies.

New treatments are being developed to control HIV disease, especially for those who are highly treatment-experienced. Researchers are discovering that some existing drugs used to treat certain diseases and conditions in HIV-negative people are proving useful for those living with HIV. They are also finding solutions for some of the side effects Side effects

Effects of a proposed project on other parts of the firm.
 of HIV infection and the drugs used to treat it. Although some of the potential new treatments seem to be less effective than originally thought, research continues. Twenty-five years alter the epidemic began, scientists are learning more and more about improving the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.


There are about 40,000 HIV + people in the US who have developed resistance to available HIV meds. These individuals are running out of treatment options and must rely on a complex and ever-changing combination of approved drugs to keep their HIV under control. Fortunately, the conference brings some very good news. Several drugs in development belong to entirely new classes of HIV drugs: integrase inhibitors and chemokine chemokine /che·mo·kine/ (ke´mo-kin) any of a group of low molecular weight cytokines identified on the basis of their ability to induce chemotaxis or chemokinesis in leukocytes (or in particular populations of leukocytes) in inflammation.  antagonists. These drugs attack HIV in completely different ways than the traditional ones that have been around for the last 20 years. If these new drugs prove to be effective, they would be the first new classes of HIV reeds to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA FDA
Food and Drug Administration

FDA, See Food and Drug Administration.

FDA, the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration.
) since 2003 and would also be the first new classes of oral HIV meds in 10 years. The last HIV med from a new class to be approved was Fuzeon (or T-20), that works by blocking HIV from entering human cells, and needs to be injected twice a day. Given the problems related to treating people who are drug resistant, these new study findings present a new opportunity for hope.

Integrase Inhibitors

David Cooper, from the University of New South Wales The University of New South Wales, also known as UNSW or colloquially as New South, is a university situated in Kensington, a suburb in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.  in Australia, presented early results from a study of the integrase inhibitor raltegravir (Abstracts #105aLB and # 105bLB), formerly known as MK-0518, combined with 3 or more existing HIV drugs (optimized background therapy). This drug works by blocking an HIV enzyme called integrase, which is one of the enzymes H IV needs to reproduce in the body. Integrase inhibitors would stop HIV from inserting its genetic material into uninfected cells. All 699 patients who began the study had viral loads between 30,000 to 50,000 copies and T-cell counts between 146 to 163. Alter 16 to 24 weeks of treatment, 77% of the patients taking raltegravir had a viral load below 400 copies (considered undetectable) compared to only 42% of those taking the placebo; 61% of the patients on the new drug had a viral load less than 50 copies. All of these patients had a dramatic decrease in viral load and a much higher increase in T cells T cells
A type of white blood cell produced in the thymus gland. T cells are an important part of the immune system. Infants born with an underdeveloped or absent thymus do not have a normal level of T cells in their blood.
 compared to the placebo patients and the drug was well-tolerated.

Initial results for another integrase inhibitor known as elvitegravir (previously known as GS-9137) show great promise, although it is still in an early stage of development (Abstract #143LB). According to Anthony Zolopa, from Stantord University, the study involved 278 HIV + people who were highly treatment-experienced and have few treatment choices left. Patients received either 20 mg, 50 mg, or 125 mg of elvitegravir with 100 mg of Norvir or Norvir boosted by a protease inhibitor protease inhibitor (prō`tē-ās'), any of a class of drugs that interfere with replication of the AIDS virus (HIV), by blocking an enzyme (protease) necessary in the late stages of its reproduction.  (either Aptivus [tiptranavir] or Prezista). After 24 weeks of treatment, researchers found that the 125 mg once-daily dose of elvitegravir, taken with Norvir, was the most effective. The drug appears to be very potent and well-tolerated, but it must be taken with at least one other HIV drug. Testing continues on this drug and it probably will not be available before 2009.

Chemokine Antagonists

A study that tested the chemokine antagonist maraviroc also showed good results (Abstracts #104aLB and #104bLB). This eagerly awaited drug from Pfizer works by blocking HIV from entering cells rather than interfering with it once it is inside cells, which is how the currently available drugs work. Over 1,000 patients took either the new drug with optimized background therapy or a placebo. Almost half of the patients with T-cell counts around 150 and viral loads of 65,000 copies had less than 50 copies after taking the new drug for 24 weeks compared to about one quarter of the patients getting the placebo. For more information on this drug, see the New Drug Profile on p. 9 in this issue.

NNRTI NNRTI Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, see there  

Anton Pozniak, from London, reported on a Phase 2 study of TMC TMC Technology Marketing Corporation (Norwalk, Connecticut)
TMC Texas Medical Center (Houston, TX)
TMC Traffic Message Channel
TMC The Movie Channel
TMC Traffic Management Center
 278 (Abstract #144LB), the new "non-nuke" still under investigation. TMC 278 seems to have the strength of the HIV med Sustiva (efavirenz efavirenz /ef·a·vi·renz/ (ef´ah-vi?renz) an antiretroviral, inhibiting reverse transcriptase; used in the treatment of HIV infection.

), but without some of the central nervous system or psychiatric side effects associated with Sustiva (e.g., dizziness, trouble sleeping, confusion, strange dreams, amnesia, hallucinations Hallucinations Definition

Hallucinations are false or distorted sensory experiences that appear to be real perceptions. These sensory impressions are generated by the mind rather than by any external stimuli, and may be seen, heard, felt, and even
). The 368 patients in this study received either 25 mg, 75 mg, or 150 mg of TMC 278 or placebo, combined with either Combivir (Retrovir + Epivir) or Truvada (Viread + Emtriva). Patients taking TMC 278 were less likely to report the above side effects related to Sustiva. Further, the number of patients with a rash was also lower among the TMC 278 patients. Overall, serious side effects occurred in about 10% of both Sustiva and TMC 278 patients.



As we reported last year, the international SMART (Strategies for the Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapy) Study was stopped because researchers determined that delayed or interrupted treatment (drug conservation) caused more than twice the risk of AIDS or death than immediate, continuous treatment (viral suppression). At that time, researchers also found that interrupting treatment led to more serious illnesses, including liver, kidney, and heart disease. The original goal of the study was to enroll 6,000 patients and study them for 8 years. Patients were randomized ran·dom·ize  
tr.v. ran·dom·ized, ran·dom·iz·ing, ran·dom·iz·es
To make random in arrangement, especially in order to control the variables in an experiment.
 (placed by chance) to either take continuous therapy or to interrupt their therapy when their T-cell count went higher than 350 copies, and then restart HIV therapy only when their T cells dropped below 250 copies.

More research has been done to compare the risk of heart disease between the continuous treatment group and the interrupted treatment group (Abstract #41). There were 48 cases of heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke in the interruption group and 31 cases among the continuous group. This means that in this study, treatment interruption of HIV drugs wits associated with a 50% higher risk for heart disease.

In a different study (Abstract #979) that expanded on the results of the SMART Study, William Burman, from the Denver Department of Public Health, and other researchers found that HIV + individuals who take breaks or vacations from their HIV therapy might be more likely to pass the virus on to their sexual or drug partners. Risk behavior was defined as vaginal or anal sex without a con(lore or needle-sharing. HIV transmission risk was defined its unprotected sex or sharing needles while having an HIV viral load HIV viral load AIDS A measure of the amount of HIV RNA in blood, expressed as number of copies/mL of plasma. See AIDS, HIV.  greater then 1,500 copies. In a survey of the 833 patients from the SMART Study, the researchers determined that the risk of transmitting HIV to their partners was similar among patients in both the interrupted and continuous treatment groups. However, viral load levels were higher overall among patients in the interrupted group. This means that if a person on a treatment break has unprotected sex or shares drug-injecting equipment when their viral load is high, the risk of infecting their partners is higher.



It is well known that HIV + individuals with lower T-cell counts are at increased risk for developing AIDS-related opportunistic infections (OIs). New data presented by Jason Baker and his team of researchers from the University of Minnesota (body, education) University of Minnesota - The home of Gopher.

Address: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
 (Abstract #37) indicate that lower T-cell counts create other risks--they raise the risk of serious health conditions not usually associated with HIV or AIDS. The FIRST (Flexible Initial Retrovirus retrovirus, type of RNA virus that, unlike other RNA viruses, reproduces by transcribing itself into DNA. An enzyme called reverse transcriptase allows a retrovirus's RNA to act as the template for this RNA-to-DNA transcription.  Suppressive sup·pres·sive  
Tending or serving to suppress.

Adj. 1. suppressive - tending to suppress; "the government used suppressive measures to control the protest"
 Therapies) Study looked at the relationship between fatal and non-fatal OIs in contrast to infections not generally considered opportunistic (not related to HIV/AIDS), taking into account patients' latest T-cell count before any of these events occured.

In this study, almost 1,400 HIV + patients who had never received HIV meds before were assigned to receive 1 of 3 types of standard HIV therapy ("non-nuke" + "nukes", PI + "nukes", or a combination of 3 drugs from 3 different classes). The average baseline (or starting) T-cell count was 163, with an average increase of 238 T cells during follow-up. After 5 years of follow-up, there were 266 new AIDS-defining events and 166 non-AIDS-defining events relating to heart, liver, and kidney disease Kidney Disease Definition

Kidney disease is a general term for any damage that reduces the functioning of the kidney. Kidney disease is also called renal disease.
, in addition to non-AIDS-defining cancers, such as skin, anal, and lung cancers. As expected, OIs occurred more often in subjects with detectable HIV viral loads and lower T-cell counts.

The data suggest that treatment strategies that reduce the amount of time spent with lower T-cell counts will prevent OI events its well as non-AIDS defining illnesses. These FIRST data support the findings of the SMART study (see above), which found that both OIs and non-opportunistic liver, kidney, and heart disease were more common in the group that interrupted therapy and spent more time at lower T-counts compared to those patients receiving continuous therapy.

Although it is well established that people who have low T-cell counts while taking HIV drugs remain at risk of AIDS-defining OIs, the risk of non-AIDS defining illnesses in such people has been unclear. The study raises some interesting questions. Are non-AIDS defining illnesses being caused by the toll that HIV takes on the immune system immune system

Cells, cell products, organs, and structures of the body involved in the detection and destruction of foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. Immunity is based on the system's ability to launch a defense against such invaders.
? Or, are people simply living longer (because of HIV drugs) and suffering from common problems related to older age? Although scientists have thought it was the latter, this thinking might be wrong. Because there was a noticeable drop in risk as T-cell counts rose, researchers now believe that it is not just longer life spans that lead to serious illness. If researchers find out that this is the case, it might be better to start HIV reeds earlier when a person's T-cell count is 350, rather than waiting until it drops further.

Kidney Risks

Investigators from Europe and North America continue to discuss and investigate the double-edged effect of HIV drugs on kidney toxicity and kidney disease among people with HIV. While HIV drugs can help the kidney function better by reducing the damage that HIV itself does to it, these drugs continue to have their own toxic effects.

Viread (tenofovir) has been associated with kidney failure kidney failure
 or renal failure

Partial or complete loss of kidney function. Acute failure causes reduced urine output and blood chemical imbalance, including uremia. Most patients recover within six weeks.
 in certain cases, although the risks have proven to be nearly always mild, rare, and reversible. One presentation (Abstract #832) showed that Viread treatment may be associated with modest declines in the kidney's ability to function properly, especially in treatment-experienced HIV+ patients. Also, exposure to low-dose Norvir may increase the risk of kidney damage kidney damage Kidney injury Nephrology A structural or functional compromise in renal function due to external–eg, athletic, occupational, or other trauma, resulting in bruising or hemorrhage, which can be profuse and life threatening Etiology Vascular  in Viread-treated individuals. In a study with over 5,500 patients, researchers at Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University, mainly at Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins in 1867 had a group of his associates incorporated as the trustees of a university and a hospital, endowing each with $3.5 million. Daniel C.  in Baltimore concluded that Viread was associated with a 4% greater decline in the ability of the kidney to work properly compared with alternative "nukes" in treatment-experienced patients.

The Swiss HIV Cohort Study team (Abstract #834) also looked at the effect of Viread on kidney function. They studied 700 people who either had never taken HIV reeds or who had interrupted treatment for at least 12 months and had started combination therapy with or without Viread. The results showed that starting HIV combination therapy was associated with a significant decline in kidney function in all populations studied.

However, the decrease was much more frequent in patients treated with Viread.


New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center.  (CDC See Control Data, century date change and Back Orifice.

CDC - Control Data Corporation
) suggest that 1 in 10 individuals diagnosed with HIV in recent years was infected with HIV strains that are resistant to at least one of the available HIV meds. The US Variant, Atypical, and Resistant HIV Surveillance HIV surveillance Epidemiology The identification and monitoring of HIV-infected persons through a regional or national database. See HIV reporting.  (VARHS) system, in which blood samples from newly diagnosed individuals are tested for drug-resistant mutations, was created by the CDC to give the clearest picture of the scope and types of resistance in the US. This project involved more than 3,100 HIV+ patients in 11 states (Abstract #648). The system uses standard genotypic resistance testing, which identifies specific HIV mutations associated with drug resistance. Because the patients in this study had not started HIV treatment yet, having HIV drug-resistant mutations in their blood would mean that the resistant virus was transmitted to them at the time of their infection.

Results show that the level of resistance varied depending on the class of drug: resistance to "non-nukes" was the highest (6.9%), then "nukes," at 3.6%, and last were protease inhibitors Protease Inhibitors Definition

A protease inhibitor is a type of drug that cripples the enzyme protease. An enzyme is a substance that triggers chemical reactions in the body.
 (2.4%). Only a small minority (1.9%) of individuals newly diagnosed with HIV had evidence of multiple drug resistance. Previous studies have suggested an increase in drug resistance over the last 10 to 15 years, from 5% in the mid-90s to 10% in recent years.

More studies need to be done so that investigators can determine if there are certain characteristics, such as health status before infection with HIV, gender or ethnic differences, sexual practices, or illegal drug use, that make a person more likely to become infected with drug-resistant HIV. This is a growing concern because the number of people with HIV infection who are taking HIV meds for long periods of time has increased. The possibility of infection with a strain of the virus that is harder to treat emphasizes the importance of HIV prevention efforts and the need to identify more effective treatment strategies.


Taking Kaletra (lopinavir/retrovir) once a day may be less effective than taking it twice a day in patients with high viral loads. The AIDS Clinical Trials Group The AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) is the largest HIV clinical trials organization in the world, playing a major role in setting standards of care for HIV infection and opportunistic diseases related to HIV and AIDS in the United States and the developed world.  (ACTG ACTG Acting
ACTG AIDS Clinical Trial Group
ACTG Actuating/Actuator
) study 5073 (Abstract #138) consisted of over 400 HIV+ people who had a viral load below 200 copies. All patients took Emtriva with either Viread or Zerit (stavudine) in addition to Kaletra.

The patients were placed in 1 of 3 treatment groups. In the first group, patients took standard doses (400 mg lopinavir/100 mg ritonavir ritonavir /ri·to·na·vir/ (ri-to´nah-vir) an HIV protease inhibitor used in treatment of HIV infection and AIDS.

) of twice-daily Kaletra. In the second group, patients took standard doses (800 mg lopinavir/200 mg ritonavir) of once-daily Kaletra. In the third group, patients also received once-daily Kaletra, but as a part of "directly observed therapy directly observed therapy Therapeutics A strategy for ensuring Pt compliance with therapy, where a health care worker or designee watches the Pt swallow each dose of prescribed drugs. See Patient compliance. Cf Directed observation. " for 24 weeks, meaning that they took their daily doses under the direct supervision of health-care workers for the first 6 months of the study (but without supervision for the last 6 months of the trial). Patients in the first two study groups took their medications without supervision.

Overall, both treatment groups were able to achieve viral loads below 200 copies. However, over time, patients taking Kaletra once a day had higher viral loads than the twice-a-day group. For people beginning HIV therapy for the first time, Kaletra-based treatment regimens are a popular option, dosed either once or twice a day. Once-daily dosing requires taking 4 tablets every 24 hours; twice-daily dosing involves taking 2 tablets every 12 hours. A concern with all HIV treatment regimens is that people with high viral loads, usually defined as pre-treatment levels greater than 100,000 copies, may face greater challenges keeping their viral loads undetectable con]pared to those with lower pre-treatment levels. Therefore, as this study showed, the long-term risk of virologic failure virologic failure Antiretroviral therapy failure, see there  is slightly higher for those with high viral loads taking the once-daily Kaletra-based regimen.


Fosomax for Bone Loss

Bone problems, such as osteopenia, osteoporosis, and osteonecrosis osteonecrosis /os·teo·ne·cro·sis/ (os?te-o-ne-kro´sis) necrosis of a bone.

Necrosis of bone.
 are usually seen in people over the age of 50. Lower levels of estrogen in women and testosterone levels in men may speed up bone loss, which leads to these conditions. As bone loss increases, a person may develop symptoms related to weakened bones, including back pain, loss of height, stooped posture, a curved backbone (dowager's hump dow·a·ger's hump
An abnormal curvature of the spine that is primarily manifested as a rounded hump in the upper back and that typically affects older women, with the curvature being the result of collapse of the spinal column because of osteoporosis.
), or fractures that may occur with a minor injury, especially of the hip, spine, or wrist.

A study presented at the conference (Abstract #42) examined how well Fosamax, which is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in HIV-negative individuals, worked in HIV + patients who were doing well on their HIV treatment but who were experiencing bone loss. The AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) study 5163 was designed to investigate the safety and effectiveness of taking calcium and vitamin D vitamin D

Any of a group of fat-soluble alcohols important in calcium metabolism in animals to form strong bones and teeth and prevent rickets and osteoporosis. It is formed by ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) of sterols (see steroid) present in the skin.
 supplements twice daily with or without once-weekly Fosamax for the treatment of bone loss in HIV + people. The 82 patients received either 70 mg of Fosamax plus calcium and vitamin D or calcium and vitamin D plus a placebo. Alter a year of treatment, the patients on Fosamax plus supplements had an improvement in bone strength.

Lipodystrophy Treatment

Several studies presented information on drugs that could help reduce lipodystrophy in HIV + individuals. One of these (Abstract #45LB), an experimental drug known as TH9507, stimulates the release of growth hormone growth hormone or somatotropin (sōmăt'ətrō`pən), glycoprotein hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland that is necessary for normal skeletal growth in humans (see protein). , which helps the body develop and grow properly. The drug has the potential to help reduce visceral fat, a buildup of fat around the gut, deep within the body. This condition, which often occurs after beginning certain HIV treatments, is also known as metabolic syndrome metabolic syndrome
See syndrome X.

Metabolic syndrome
A group of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
 and is a common occurrence for HIV + people. But there is a Catch 22. Treatments that reduce visceral fat can also reduce subcutaneous fat (the fatty tissue between skin and muscle). This is bad--it can lead to muscle loss, which is responsible for facial wasting (sunken cheeks) and thinning of the arms and legs.

Stephen Grinspoon, of Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School (HMS) is one of the graduate schools of Harvard University. It is a prestigious American medical school located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. , presented final results for 412 US and Canadian HIV + patients with lipodystrophy-associated visceral fat increases. They received either 2 mg daily subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of TH9507 or placebo injections for 26 weeks. The good news is that patients who received the TH9507 had a 20% reduction in visceral fat compared to patients on placebo but without any significant changes in limb fat. The results also showed that cholesterol and triglyceride levels among those receiving TH9507 improved during the treatment period. No serious side effects were reported.

In the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) study 5142 (Abstract #38), which compared 3 HIV drug regimens, researchers found that Kaletra plus 2 "nukes" is less likely to cause limb fat loss than Sustiva plus 2 nukes. Although the 753 patients in the study taking the Sustiva combination had better control of the virus than patients taking the Kaletra combination, they were more likely to have tat loss in the face and limbs. Further, a second study of Kaletra taken alone (Abstract #44LB) also found that when compared to patients treated with Sustiva and Combivir, those who received Kaletra monotherapy were much less likely to lose limb fat after 2 years of treatment. This is not surprising since researchers have known for a long time that AZT AZT or zidovudine (zīdō`vydēn'), drug used to treat patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS; also called , which is part of the Combivir formula (AZT/3TC) can cause fat loss. (NOTE: Monotherapy is not recommended as standard therapy for HIV infection).

Preliminary results from another study (Abstract #39) indicate that Zetia may be a moderately effective cholesterol-lowering option for HIV + patients receiving HIV drugs. A 14-week study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop.
, Chapel Hill, and the University of California, San Francisco Coordinates:  , enrolled 48 HIV + patients, all of whom were receiving HIV drugs and who had moderately high "bad" LDL cholesterol LDL cholesterol
See low-density lipoprotein.

LDL Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is the primary cholesterol molecule. High levels of LDL increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
 levels. In the first phase of the study, patients received 10 mg per clay of Zetia or placebo for 6 weeks. This was followed by a 2-week "washout washout

to disperse or empty by flooding with water or other solvent.

medullary solute washout
a syndrome in which the relative hyperosmolarity of the renal medulla is reduced due to an excessive loss of sodium and chloride from
 period" in which no one received treatment. Then, those who originally took the Zetia switched to 6 weeks of placebo treatment, and those originally taking the placebo took 6 weeks of Zetia. After 6 weeks of Zetia treatment, LDL cholesterol decreased by an average of 12% compared to a 3% drop in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that Zetia, used alone, led to significant declines in LDL cholesterol and was well tolerated.
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Title Annotation:HIGHLIGHTS
Publication:HIV Treatment: ALERTS!
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Previous Article:Studies in Galveston.
Next Article:New drug profile: Maraviroc: it's different, it's strong, and it's almost here.

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