Posts tagged ‘HIV/AIDS’
David DiGiusto, Ph.D., works at the intersection of science and medicine.
As the director of the Laboratory for Cellular Medicine, he oversees stem cell research, product development and manufacturing. The manufacturing arm of the lab — the Cellular Therapy Production Center — is one of three onsite facilities at City of Hope that make investigational treatments for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. In short, his lab is the bridge between basic research where bold ideas are born and the clinical trials that study promising, new treatments in patients.
Watch the video below to hear DiGiusto explain the how and why of manufacturing — and talk about the ultimate goal of his team’s HIV research. Continue reading “At the crossroads, translational lab speeds ideas into therapies” »
Oprah Winfrey says that during her interview with Lance Armstrong, to be aired in two parts starting Thursday, he admitted to doping during his cycling career. That detail is feeding speculation among the public and the media about whether those doping activities may have contributed to his diagnosis of testicular cancer.
So far, it’s not possible to give a definitive answer to that question. The known connection between testicular cancer and common doping regimens is tenuous at best.
Further, although there’s been plenty of speculation about how Armstrong doped, there hasn’t been confirmation about what substances he used. The amounts and the duration of use – either before or after his cancer diagnosis and treatment – are also unconfirmed.
This is what’s currently known. Armstrong was diagnosed in 1996, at the age of 25, with advanced stage testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, abdomen and brain. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, with a 95 percent survival rate if caught in an early stage when it’s confined to a testicle. It has an 80 percent survival rate if caught in more advanced stages, when it has spread to other organs. Continue reading “Can doping increase risk of cancer? Yes. Testicular cancer? Unknown.” »
World AIDS Day is marked this year with a renewed optimism that science and medicine could soon change the course of the disease — again.
First came the AIDS drug AZT, then the combinations of antiretroviral drugs known as AIDS cocktails. Both were significant advances that gave hope, and longer life expectancy, to patients with the virus. Now many experts are cautiously talking about cures as an eventuality rather than a dream. Part of that optimism is fueled by the gene therapies currently in development at City of Hope. Continue reading “On World AIDS Day, scientific advances elicit optimism” »
Who can argue that peanut butter does not taste great with chocolate?
And as much as we admire Albert Einstein for his solitary work on understanding that whole “space-time” relationship, we also celebrate the group mind of scientists like Francis Crick, Rosalind A. Franklin and James D. Watson who, together, worked out the structure of DNA. Sometimes things are simply better in pairs — or trios.
Take highly active antiretroviral therapy, commonly called HAART, for one. Many physicians cite the introduction of HAART — basically a combination of three or more virus-fighting drugs — in the 1990s as a major turning point in HIV/AIDS treatment. Through HAART’s “drug cocktails,” what was once considered an immediate death sentence became a chronic condition that was manageable for most people infected with HIV.
Doctors came up with the combinations of drugs used in HAART only after each drug was approved and used individually. But today some researchers, including scientists at City of Hope, are looking at drug combinations for diseases like cancer much earlier, while the drugs are still in development.
They recently presented two lab studies of potential new combination cancer treatments for lymphoma and solid tumors at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in early April.
This December is AIDS Awareness Month, and 2011 marks 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were detected. During the past three decades, more than 25 million people around the world have died of AIDS, though there are new signs of hope for stopping the epidemic.
Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer of City of Hope and deputy director for clinical programs of the cancer center, was on the front lines of the early fight against HIV/AIDS. As an expert in blood disorders, she was one of the first physicians to treat AIDS patients in the early 1980s.
The epidemic has had an enormous impact on her and the people she knew, she says. In a new video online, Levine speaks from the heart about the challenge of HIV/AIDS and the patients she lost — and helped — along the way. In this interview, she describes the remarkable medical and scientific progress that has been made in the past three decades.
“When I first saw my first cases of HIV 30 years ago, it was the biggest puzzle I had ever experienced in my life,” she says. “On the one hand, I was overwhelmed by the human tragedy of it — I was surrounded by it, surrounded by death. On the other hand, it was scientifically the puzzle of a lifetime …”
Interested in learning how City of Hope is trying to solve the HIV/AIDS puzzle through research? Read this Q&A with John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair in City of Hope’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
December 1 is World AIDS Day, and 2011 marks 30 years since doctors diagnosed the first cases of AIDS.
HIV/AIDS expert John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair in City of Hope’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, spoke with Breakthroughs about advancements made in the last three decades — and prospects for a cure.
How much progress has been made in the past 30 years against HIV/AIDS?
We have had great improvements in outcomes, and in reducing the viral load in the bodies of HIV-infected people. As good as that is, if people stop taking the drugs, the virus still comes back. So now we need to start thinking about not just treatment, but a cure.
Is a cure for AIDS possible?
There is one patient who has been cured of AIDS. He is called “the Berlin Patient,” because he was treated in Berlin, though he is an American. The patient received a bone marrow transplant from a donor under a unique set of circumstances. We can’t apply that specific treatment to the entire world, but we are developing techniques to go after virally infected cells.
Will this treatment become available soon?
There’s not going to be one “boom” in people being cured. There may be one person a year, but once new processes are developed, we may be able to cure thousands of people a year. That is slow progress – but six years ago we thought that no one could be cured.
Over the years there’s been a great deal of talk about a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. What’s the status of vaccine research?
I don’t see a vaccine for HIV happening. The research has encountered too many problems. Gene therapy offers more sophisticated tools.
What research is under way at City of Hope?
In an article in Science Translational Medicine earlier this year, we detailed our successful efforts in a unique, first-in-human gene therapy approach targeting HIV. It marks the first successful, long-term persistence of anti-HIV genes in patients with AIDS-related lymphoma. This is a very promising line of research that could lead to new treatment paradigms.
Will there eventually be a widespread cure for AIDS?
The Berlin Patient has set the precedent: If you eradicate virus from the patient, you cure the patient. So we are developing “smart bombs” that help kill HIV. We may use T cells that have been gene-modified for this purpose. We may even be able to put protective genes into a patient’s own cells. I now envision AIDS as a disease we will successfully combat — like we have successfully combated smallpox and polio. I believe that is possible.
Scientists from City of Hope and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have joined forces on biomedical and bioengineering research projects that may ultimately boost treatment for cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
The research initiative was established in 2008 through a $3 million seed gift and supports research projects between the two institutions.
“When we effectively apply the strengths of both City of Hope and Caltech to scientific research, we can more easily leverage groundbreaking discovery into the development of improved therapies for people facing serious illness such as cancer, HIV or diabetes,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope and the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair.