Trust did not warn of killer's risk

31 October 2013 Last updated at 10:00 ET

Brian MaddockBrian Maddock told his psychotherapist he wanted to kill Mr Naylor

A NHS trust failed to warn a man who was killed by his former partner that he was at risk, a report has revealed.

Killer Brian Maddock, 44, had previously told his psychotherapist he planned to kill Michael Naylor with a knife he had under his bed.

The report by NHS England said the risk posed to Mr Naylor by Maddock had not been assessed, before he died at their home in Manchester in 2010.

Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust has apologised to Mr Naylor’s family.

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Trust did not warn of killer’s risk

31 October 2013 Last updated at 10:00 ET

Brian MaddockBrian Maddock told his psychotherapist he wanted to kill Mr Naylor

A NHS trust failed to warn a man who was killed by his former partner that he was at risk, a report has revealed.

Killer Brian Maddock, 44, had previously told his psychotherapist he planned to kill Michael Naylor with a knife he had under his bed.

The report by NHS England said the risk posed to Mr Naylor by Maddock had not been assessed, before he died at their home in Manchester in 2010.

Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust has apologised to Mr Naylor’s family.


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Breast cancer 'rising in under-40s'

31 October 2013 Last updated at 09:53 ET

By Helen Briggs BBC News

Breast cancerWomen in general have a 1-in-8 chance of developing breast cancer

Cases of breast cancer in women under 40 are rising across Europe, research suggests.

Experts say it is unclear whether this is due to improved diagnosis or new risk factors.

A study in Cancer Epidemiology found cases rose by about 1% a year between 1990 and 2008 in seven countries.

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer among women globally, and the leading cause of cancer death.

Cancer in young women is rare – only about 5% of all breast cancers are in women under the age of 40.

Despite this, it is the leading cause of death in young adult women.

Researchers in France and Italy studied trends in breast cancer in women under 40 in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland over an 18-year period.

They found that on average cases rose by about 1% a year in women under 40, with the greatest rise in women under 35.

It is unclear if this is due to a rise in risk factors or improving methods of diagnosis, they say.

‘Worrying’

“The rise in incidence was greater for women under 35 and for ductal carcinomas [a type of tumour in the ducts of the mammary gland],” the researchers, led by Dr Brice Leclere, of the GRELL working group, write in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

“This increase can be due to a rise in risk factors and/or changes in diagnosis and surveillance practices, but we could not clearly distinguish between these two non-exclusive explanations.”

Commenting on the research, Jessica Kirby, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, said: “It’s worrying to see a rise in breast cancer rates in younger women in Europe, but this study didn’t include the UK.

“Rises in breast cancer rates could be caused by a range of things that can increase the risk of breast cancer, such as women having fewer children and having them later in life, or greater awareness and diagnosis in this group.

“Women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping active and cutting down on alcohol. Also get to know your breasts and, if you notice any change, tell your doctor without delay.”

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Breast cancer ‘rising in under-40s’

31 October 2013 Last updated at 09:53 ET

By Helen Briggs BBC News

Breast cancerWomen in general have a 1-in-8 chance of developing breast cancer

Cases of breast cancer in women under 40 are rising across Europe, research suggests.

Experts say it is unclear whether this is due to improved diagnosis or new risk factors.

A study in Cancer Epidemiology found cases rose by about 1% a year between 1990 and 2008 in seven countries.

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer among women globally, and the leading cause of cancer death.

Cancer in young women is rare – only about 5% of all breast cancers are in women under the age of 40.

Despite this, it is the leading cause of death in young adult women.

Researchers in France and Italy studied trends in breast cancer in women under 40 in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland over an 18-year period.

They found that on average cases rose by about 1% a year in women under 40, with the greatest rise in women under 35.

It is unclear if this is due to a rise in risk factors or improving methods of diagnosis, they say.

‘Worrying’

“The rise in incidence was greater for women under 35 and for ductal carcinomas [a type of tumour in the ducts of the mammary gland],” the researchers, led by Dr Brice Leclere, of the GRELL working group, write in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

“This increase can be due to a rise in risk factors and/or changes in diagnosis and surveillance practices, but we could not clearly distinguish between these two non-exclusive explanations.”

Commenting on the research, Jessica Kirby, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager, said: “It’s worrying to see a rise in breast cancer rates in younger women in Europe, but this study didn’t include the UK.

“Rises in breast cancer rates could be caused by a range of things that can increase the risk of breast cancer, such as women having fewer children and having them later in life, or greater awareness and diagnosis in this group.

“Women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by keeping active and cutting down on alcohol. Also get to know your breasts and, if you notice any change, tell your doctor without delay.”


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WHO confirms four more cases of Middle East virus

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LONDON | Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:37pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) – Three more people in Saudi Arabia have become infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and one has died, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, and it also confirmed the first MERS case in Oman.

In a disease outbreak update, the Geneva-based United Nations health agency said the four new cases bring the number of people worldwide struck by the MERS virus to 149, of which 63 have died.

Health authorities and scientists are still trying to figure out what kind of animal “reservoir” may be fuelling the MERS outbreak.

The virus, which is from the same family as the one that caused a deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS in 2002, is thought to have originated in bats.

One study published in August found strong evidence that it is widespread among dromedary camels in the Middle East.

MERS, which was unknown in humans until this earlier year, has also since been reported in people in Tunisia, France, Germany, Italy, and Britain.

The WHO said the patient in Oman is a 68-year-old man from Al Dahkliya region who became ill on October 26.

“Investigations are currently ongoing to determine what exposures might be responsible for his infection,” it said.

The three patients in Saudi Arabia, one woman and two men, all had underlying medical conditions but all reported having had no contact with animals before falling ill.

One of the Saudi patients, however, was reported to have been in contact with another person infected with MERS.

The WHO says MERS patients to date have most commonly had respiratory disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea is commonly reported among the patients and severe complications include kidney failure and acute breathing difficulties.

“Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS…should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors,” it said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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For some obese people, surgery beats other options

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By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK | Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:23pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Diet, exercise, therapy and drugs can help obese people get healthier. But weight-loss surgery does a better job of getting rid of extra pounds and treating type 2 diabetes, a new review of past studies shows.

The studies only followed people for two years. So it’s possible the results would look different further down the line, the authors write.

So-called bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass or gastric banding, reduces the size of the stomach so patients can only eat small amounts of food.

Many doctors have noted the dramatic weight loss that often results. But it wasn’t obvious how surgery stacks up against traditional diet and exercise strategies.

The new review included 11 studies. Each study randomly chose some obese people to have surgery and others to make diet or lifestyle changes instead, for instance. Together those studies included close to 800 people.

Participants in the bariatric surgery groups lost an average of 57 more pounds than those in the non-surgery groups. Average weight loss ranged from 45 to 100 pounds among those who had surgery.

More people who had type 2 diabetes saw their blood sugar levels fall into the normal range after surgery than after a different intervention.

“Although they try to look at a range of medical conditions, in reality the real importance is the effect of weight loss on diabetes and the relative effectiveness of non-surgical versus surgical approaches,” said Dr. Paul O’Brien.

O’Brien is an obesity specialist who pioneered the Lap-Band procedure in Australia in 1994. He founded the Centre for Obesity Research and Education at Monash University in Melbourne and was not involved in the new review.

“The clear and consistent message is the bariatric surgical procedures achieve a much better outcome,” O’Brien said.

Bariatric surgery will certainly help obese people with diabetes better control the disease and may put it into remission entirely, he said.

“Given that there are probably in excess of 300 million people across the world with type 2 diabetes and maybe half of these are obese, this opens up huge possibilities for better health,” O’Brien told Reuters Health.

But two years isn’t really enough time to judge the results. And the analysis included small numbers of studies and patients, Viktoria L. Gloy from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and colleagues note in the journal BMJ.

Longer-term studies, cost-effectiveness studies and comparisons between different surgeries are still missing, O’Brien said.

The authors did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

Surgery is typically recommended for people with a body mass index – a measure of weight in relation to height – of at least 40, or at least 35 if they also have co-occurring health problems such as diabetes or severe sleep apnea.

“I think an important point to consider is that most of the studies suggest that bariatric surgery combined with intensive lifestyle management is superior to lifestyle management alone,” said Dr. Richdeep Gill. He is a general surgeon at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Generally people who undergo weight-loss surgery must try lifestyle changes like diet and exercise first before going under the knife. So it may not be an either/or choice for most obese people.

Gill, who studies bariatric surgery, was not involved in the review.

Patients need to be informed about the risks of surgery, he told Reuters Health.

According to the National Institutes of Health, gastric bypass surgery carries risks of allergic reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, breathing problems, heart attack, stroke or infection.

In the review, 15 percent of people in the surgery groups had anemia from low iron levels post-surgery and 8 percent needed a second operation.

It’s impossible to say how serious those additional surgeries were. But second surgeries are always more difficult than the first, Gill said.

Post-surgery, patients must stick to a special diet for life and often have to avoid some common medications like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Tackling obesity is a challenging issue, and the patient needs to be committed to their own management strategy,” Gill said. Only then, with consultation of a multidisciplinary care team, will surgery be considered as an option.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1cVFDK6 BMJ, online October 22, 2013.

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Initiative Raises Palliative Care Use in Cancer

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Meeting Coverage

Published: Oct 30, 2013

By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Action Points

  • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Consultations for palliative care doubled and readmissions declined by half following a pilot study of an initiative to standardize criteria for palliative and hospice care among cancer patients.
  • Note that the criteria used to initiate palliative care among patients with solid tumors were: stage IV solid tumor cancer (stage III in the case of lung or pancreatic cancer), hospitalization within the previous 30 days; length of stay >7 days; or uncontrolled symptoms, including pain, nausea/vomiting, dyspnea, delirium, or psychological distress.

Consultations for palliative care doubled and readmissions declined by half following a pilot study of an initiative to standardize criteria for palliative and hospice care among cancer patients.

Palliative care consultations increased from 41% in a historical group of patients to 82% after the 3-month intervention. The 30-day readmission rate decreased from 36% to 17% after the intervention.

Though implemented at a single institution, the criteria are applicable to any hospital, according to Kerin Adelson, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

“Formalizing criteria for palliative care consultation was easy to implement, highly effective, and led to improvement in multiple quality measures,” Adelson said during a press briefing prior to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium in San Diego.

“At Mount Sinai this has become our standard of care. We have expanded our palliative care service so that all patients who meet criteria will get the services they need. These criteria are applicable to hospitals nationwide and if adopted, we believe, will lead to improvement in care for the sickest patients with metastatic cancer.”

Several studies have shown that integration of palliative care in the management of patients with advanced cancer leads to multiple benefits. Appropriate and effective use of palliative care improves symptom control, clarifies understanding of a patient’s prognosis, increases utilization of hospice care, and decreases health resource utilization.

Reflecting the increased recognition of the role of palliative care in cancer, ASCO in 2012 issued a provisional clinical opinion that recommended palliative care “for any patient with metastatic cancer and/or high symptom burden.”

In September the Institute of Medicine released the report Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care. Authors of the report recommended that cancer teams “place primary emphasis on palliative care, psychosocial support and timely referral to hospice for end-of-life care.”

Building on the evidence in support of palliative and hospice care, Adelson and colleagues designed an initiative to improve integration of palliative care into the management of patients with metastatic solid tumors. Patients targeted by the initiative had stage IV solid tumor cancer (stage III in the case of lung or pancreatic cancer); hospitalization within the previous 30 days; length of stay >7 days; or uncontrolled symptoms, including pain, nausea/vomiting, dyspnea, delirium, and psychological distress.

The primary outcomes of interest were the frequency of palliative care consultation for appropriate patients, 30-day readmission rate, and hospice utilization. For comparison, investigators used data for patients who met eligibility criteria for the initiative during a 6-week period prior to initiation of the intervention.

The results showed that the palliative care consultation rate increased significantly during the intervention (P<0.0001) and the 30-day readmission rate declined significantly as compared with the 6-week period before the intervention began (P=0.022). Hospice utilization increased substantially, from 14% to 25%, but the difference did not achieve statistical significance.

Adelson and colleagues also compared the results at the end of the intervention with those that Mount Sinai reported the previous year to the University Health System Consortium (UHC), an alliance of academic medical centers that share data on quality metrics at the participating institutions. The UHC data comprised every patient admitted to the medical center’s cancer institute. About 60% of the patients would have met the intervention criteria.

The secondary analysis showed that the 30-day readmission rate was reduced from 21.7% to 13.5%. The mortality index (a measure of mortality in the acute-care hospital setting) declined from 1.39 (worse than average) to 0.59 (better than average). The length-of-stay index did not change (1.23 versus 1.25) and overshot the target value of <1.0.

Press briefing moderator Olatoyosi Odenike, MD, of the University of Chicago, called the study “an excellent example of how the implementation of a few simple criteria that identify individuals most likely to benefit from palliative care led to significant improvement with regard to utilization of services, as well as an improvement in quality measures.”

“This kind of study provides an opportunity for wider adoption of such measures in subsequent larger studies in validation of this approach,” she added.

Adelson and colleagues reported no relevant disclosures.


Primary source: American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Care Symposium
Source reference: Adelson K, et al “Standardized criteria for required palliative care consultation on the solid tumor oncology service” ASCO-QCS 2013; Abstract 37.

Working from Houston, home to one of the world’s largest medical complexes, Charles Bankhead has more than 20 years of experience as a medical writer and editor. His career began as a science and medical writer at an academic medical center. He later spent almost a decade as a writer and editor for Medical World News, one of the leading medical trade magazines of its era. His byline has appeared in medical publications that have included Cardio, Cosmetic Surgery Times, Dermatology Times, Diagnostic Imaging, Family Practice, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Medscape, Oncology News International, Oncology Times, Ophthalmology Times, Patient Care, Renal and Urology News, The Medical Post, Urology Times, and the International Medical News Group newspapers. He has a BA in journalism and MA in mass communications, both from Texas Tech University.

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TCT: Riskiest Patients Benefit from CoreValve

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Meeting Coverage

Published: Oct 30, 2013 | Updated: Oct 30, 2013

By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Reviewed by F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE; Instructor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Action Points

  • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • This prospective cohort of patients at extremely high risk for surgical aortic valve replacement who received a transcatheter CoreValve demonstrated rates of major stroke and death significantly lower than historical controls.
  • Be aware that there was no control group in this study due to ethical concerns. It is therefore difficult to conclude with certainty that CoreValve is superior to modern medical therapy for aortic valve disease.

SAN FRANCISCO — The first results out of the U.S. pivotal trial for Medtronic’s CoreValve prosthesis for transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) showed a significant benefit for patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis who had an extremely high surgical risk, a researcher reported here.

The 1-year rate of all-cause mortality or major stroke was 22.5% (95% CI 21.6%-29.4%), meeting the trial’s primary endpoint by coming in under the goal of 43% (P<0.0001), according to Jeffrey Popma, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The rate of major stroke was low at both 30 days (2.4%) and 1 year (4.1%), and paravalvular regurgitation improved over time, Popma reported at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics meeting here.

“I think the key thing for patients is that right now we only have one device here available in the United States and this data should hopefully form the basis for an approval of a second device that will allow us to treat patients with smaller vessels [and] bigger annulus sizes,” commented Ajay Kirtane, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, who moderated a press briefing at which the results were discussed. “So I think it would be a welcome addition to have as a whole.”

Safety Results Deemed Encouraging

William O’Neill, MD, of Henry Ford Hospital, said he was surprised by how safe the device was, pointing to the low rates of mortality and stroke and the improvement in paravalvular regurgitation.

“All of those things are good for patients and I’m actually very encouraged by the results of the trial,” he told MedPage Today.

He noted that the FDA announced that it would not require an external expert panel before proceeding with its review of CoreValve for use in this subset of patients with an extremely high predicted risk from surgical aortic valve replacement.

Medtronic said that it anticipates approval for the device by the end of April, “which I think is great,” O’Neill said, “because the more devices we have available, the wider the armamentarium to treat the patients.”

Although multiple TAVI devices are available in Europe, only one such device has been approved for use in the U.S. — the Edwards Sapien valve.

The CoreValve U.S. Pivotal trial was designed to support the approval of Medtronic’s device. The trial included patients at high surgical risk — in whom TAVI with CoreValve was compared with surgical aortic valve replacement — and those at extreme surgical risk — in whom TAVI with CoreValve was compared with historical data from patients treated with medical therapy.

In the extreme-risk group of patients, most were treated using iliofemoral access, and that is the group of patients for which Popma reported results. The analysis included 487 patients who had arteries that could accommodate an 18-French sheath.

The extreme surgical risk of the patients was determined by two clinical site cardiac surgeons and one interventional cardiologist based on assessments of comorbidities, frailty, and disability indicating a risk of operative death or serious, irreversible morbidity of 50% or greater at 30 days. The determination was confirmed by external review.

The average age of the patients was 83, the STS predicted risk of mortality was 10.3%, and the logistic EuroSCORE was 22.7%. Nearly all of the patients (92%) had New York Heart Association class III or IV symptoms at baseline.

Historical Data Used for Comparison

For the primary endpoint of all-cause mortality or stroke at 1 year, the patients treated with CoreValve were compared with historical data from patients treated with medical therapy because it was no longer considered ethical to randomize patients to standard therapy after the results of the PARTNER trial were presented in 2010.

The objective performance goal of 43% was estimated using a meta-analysis of five contemporary balloon valvuloplasty series and the control group of PARTNER Cohort B. The rate came in under that in the current trial, with low rates of both death and major stroke. In a continued access study of 873 patients enrolled after the trial ended, rates were even lower.

Those effects on clinical outcomes were accompanied by significant changes in symptoms. New York Heart Association class improved by at least one category in 90% of patients and by at least two categories in 60% of patients by 1 year.

And paravalvular regurgitation improved over time. At discharge, about half of the patients had mild or moderate regurgitation and the other half had no or trivial regurgitation. By 1 year, the rates were 32.9% and 67.1%, respectively.

Of the patients with moderate regurgitation at 1 month who survived to 1 year, 80% had a reduction in paravalvular regurgitation.

Several researchers questioned what could be behind the somewhat surprising finding, and Popma pointed to the method of sizing the valves used in the trial. All patients underwent coronary CT to have the valve size selected, and Popma said the investigators tended to be more aggressive in selecting a larger valve size.

Kirtane said more data are needed to see whether the reduction in regurgitation holds up.

Pacemaker Implantation Rates a Concern

Previous studies have shown that CoreValve is associated with higher rates of permanent pacemaker implantation compared with other TAVI devices, and in the current study 22.2% required a new pacemaker implantation at 30 days. That was on top of the 25% of patients who already had a pacemaker at baseline.

Kirtane said that the pacemaker rate was consistent with what was expected, and noted that despite the high rate of pacemaker implantation, there was still a significant improvement in all-cause mortality and major stroke in the trial.

O’Neill said that even though there is no proof that pacemaker implantation is associated with worse clinical outcomes, there is still some concern surrounding the issue.

“There is a huge problem in the hospital because the patients have to be maintained in the hospital for 3 or 4 days longer than they might have been just because there’s a concern about late pacemaker implantation,” he said, noting that costs would increase because of the longer length of stay and the expense of the pacemaker itself.

Overall, though, the results were received as positive.

Michael Mack, MD, a cardiac surgeon and co-author of the PARTNER trial, noted that none of the centers that participated in the trial had prior transcatheter heart valve experience.

“Putting [the trial] in any light, the results are outstanding, but especially putting it in that light,” he said at the press briefing.

The study was sponsored by Medtronic Cardiovascular.

Popma reported relationships with Cordis, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Abbott, Abiomed, Covidien, and ev3.


Primary source: Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics
Source reference: Popma J, et al “COREVALVE EXTREME RISK: a prospective registry study of transcatheter aortic valve replacement with a self-expanding transcatheter heart valve in patients with severe aortic stenosis” TCT 2013.

Todd Neale, MedPage Today Staff Writer, got his start in journalism at Audubon Magazine and made a stop in directory publishing before landing at MedPage Today. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an M.A. in journalism from the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting program at New York University.

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Studies in monkeys may be next step in search for HIV cure

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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO | Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:09pm EDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A powerful infusion of HIV-fighting antibodies beat back a potent form of the virus in monkeys and kept it at bay for weeks, U.S. government scientists and a team led by Harvard University found, offering a potential next step in the battle against human HIV.

The two studies, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, involve the use of rare antibodies made by 10 percent to 20 percent of people with HIV that can neutralize a wide array of strains.

Such antibodies latch on to regions of the virus that are highly “conserved,” meaning they are so critical to the virus that causes AIDS that they appear in nearly every HIV strain.

By attaching to the virus, they make it incapable of infecting other cells.

In the past decade, scientists have tried to make vaccines that could coax the body into making these same types of HIV-specific antibodies. But finding a way to make these complex antibodies has been challenging.

“These are the Ferraris of antibodies,” said Dr Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor at Harvard Medical School, who led the larger of the two studies.

“Nobody, including ourselves, has been able to develop a vaccine that can generate immune responses that are even close.”

In the studies, the teams instead tested these antibodies as a potential treatment for people infected with HIV. Both teams used rhesus monkeys with the Simian-human immunodeficiency virus, a monkey version of HIV.

Barouch’s team studied the rare antibodies harvested from HIV-infected humans that were grown in large batches and could be infused at high doses. The team tested different combinations of antibodies in 35 infected monkeys.

The one that worked best was an antibody called PGT121.

“Basically, that antibody, given either alone or in combination, resulted in a dramatic effect,” Barouch said.

PEOPLE NEXT?

The antibodies reduced the virus to undetectable levels in 16 of 18 monkeys within seven days, and kept it there for one to three months. In three animals with the lowest viral load at the time of treatment, the virus did not resurface.

A smaller study by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, showed similar results.

Both teams say the approach should now be tested in people.

“All the data to date exist in the monkey model. We need to evaluate how these antibodies perform in humans infected with HIV,” Barouch said.

His team did not test the antibody treatment in combination with antiretroviral treatments, the standard HIV drugs used by thousands of patients to control the virus.

But Barouch thinks such combinations would make sense because both treatments have different mechanisms of action.

While antiretroviral drugs only attack the machinery used by the HIV virus to make copies of itself, antibodies can directly attack free virus particles in the blood as well as in cells that are infected with the virus.

Barouch said researchers and drug companies are interested in the results, which could offer a next step toward a cure for the infection that causes AIDS.

In an interview on the Nature website, Dr Louis Picker of Oregon Health & Science University, who wrote a commentary on the research, said the study is “a baby step towards cure.”

He said antiretroviral treatments, such as those made by Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline, reduce the ability of the HIV virus to replicate in the body by maybe 99.9 percent, but not 100 percent.

“This treatment on top of it may bring it to 100 percent,” he said.

Still unclear is whether antibodies will also attack latent HIV cells that hide in the body and allow the virus to reappear when treatment stops.

“We haven’t shown any cures,” Barouch said. “However, we have shown the antibodies act not only on the virus in the bloodstream, but can also substantially reduce virus in tissues such as lymph nodes and the gut. Future research with these antibodies will help determine whether they might be part of a virus eradication or cure strategy.”

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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