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Vol. LXII, No. 1
January 8, 2010

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Survival of Children with HIV in the U.S. Has Improved Dramatically

The death rates of children with HIV have decreased ninefold since doctors started prescribing cocktails of antiretroviral drugs in the mid-1990s, concludes a large-scale study of the long-term outcomes of children and adolescents with HIV in the U.S. In spite of this improvement, however, young people with HIV continue to die at 30 times the rate of youth of similar age who do not have HIV, found researchers from NIH and other institutions. Earlier studies have shown that adults with HIV are living longer because of improved multi-drug antiretroviral regimens known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). However, limited information has existed about the effectiveness of HAART in improving the survival of children with HIV. The current analysis, published online in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, delineates the effects of HAART on the rates and causes of death for HIV-infected children and adolescents. The study was cofunded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Multiple Myeloma Drug Extends Disease-Free Survival

Initial results from a large, randomized clinical trial for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, showed that patients who received the oral drug lenalidomide (Revlimid, also known as CC-5013) following a blood stem cell transplant had their cancer kept in check longer than patients who received a placebo. The clinical trial, for patients ages 18 to 70, was sponsored by NCI and conducted by a network of researchers led by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B in collaboration with the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN). BMT CTN is cosponsored by NCI and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The independent data and safety monitoring committee overseeing the trial found that the study demonstrated a longer time before the cancer progressed following autologous blood stem cell transplantation for those patients on the study drug than those on placebo and so the trial was stopped early.

Gene Linked to Hearing Loss in Males Identified

A gene associated with a rare form of progressive deafness in males has been identified by researchers funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

A gene associated with a rare form of progressive deafness in males has been identified by an international team of researchers funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The gene, PRPS1, appears to be crucial in inner ear development and maintenance. The findings were published in the Dec. 17 early online issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. “Not only does [this discovery] give scientists a way to develop a targeted treatment for hearing loss in boys with this disorder, it may also open doors to the treatment of other types of deafness, including some forms of acquired hearing loss,” said NIDCD director Dr. James Battey. The gene is associated with DFN2, a progressive form of deafness that primarily affects males. Boys with DFN2 begin to lose their hearing in both ears roughly between the ages of 5 and 15 and over the course of several decades will experience hearing loss that can range from severe to profound.

Amyloid Deposits in Cognitively Normal People May Predict Risk for Alzheimer’s

For people free of dementia, abnormal deposits of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease are linked to increased risk of developing the symptoms of the progressive brain disorder, according to two studies from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. The studies, primarily funded by the National Institute on Aging, linked higher amounts of the protein deposits in dementia-free people with greater risk for developing the disease and with loss of brain volume and subtle declines in cognitive abilities. The two studies were reported in the Dec. 14 online issue of Archives of Neurology. The scientists used brain scans and other tests to explore the relationship between levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky protein that forms the hallmark plaques of Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia risk in cognitively normal people. —compiled by Carla Garnett

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