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Vol. LXII, No. 15
July 23, 2010
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Digest

Eye Study Finds Two Therapies Slow Diabetic Eye Disease Progression

Researchers have found that two therapies may slow the progression
Researchers have found that two therapies may slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in working-age Americans.

In high-risk adults with type 2 diabetes, researchers have found that two therapies may slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in working-age Americans.

Intensive blood sugar control reduced the progression of diabetic retinopathy compared with standard blood sugar control, and combination lipid therapy with a fibrate and statin also reduced disease progression compared with statin therapy alone. However, intensive blood pressure control provided no additional benefit to patients compared with standard blood pressure control.

Results of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Eye Study, supported by NIH, were published online June 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The ACCORD Eye Study clearly indicates that intensive glycemic control and fibrate treatment added to statin therapy separately reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy,” said Dr. Emily Chew, chair of the study and chief of the Clinical Trials Branch at the National Eye Institute. “The main ACCORD findings showed that fibrate treatment added to statin therapy is safe for patients like those involved in the study. However, intensive blood sugar control to near normal glucose levels increased the risk of death and severe low blood sugar, so patients and their doctors must take these potential risks into account when implementing a diabetes treatment plan.”

NIH-Led Scientists Find Antibodies That Stop HIV from Infecting Human Cells

Scientists have discovered two potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory and have demonstrated how one of these disease-fighting proteins accomplishes this feat. According to the scientists, these antibodies could be used to design improved HIV vaccines or could be further developed to prevent or treat HIV infection. Moreover, the method used to find these antibodies could be applied to isolate therapeutic antibodies for other infectious diseases as well.

“The discovery of these exceptionally broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV and the structural analysis that explains how they work are exciting advances that will accelerate our efforts to find a preventive HIV vaccine for global use,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “In addition, the technique the teams used to find the new antibodies represents a novel strategy that could be applied to vaccine design for many other infectious diseases.”

Led by a team from the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, the scientists found two naturally occurring, powerful antibodies called VRC01 and VRC02 in an HIV-infected individual’s blood. They found the antibodies using a novel molecular device they developed that homes in on the specific cells that make antibodies against HIV. The device is an HIV protein that the scientists modified so it would react only with antibodies specific to the site where the virus binds to cells it infects.

The scientists found that VRC01 and VRC02 neutralize more HIV strains with greater overall strength than previously known antibodies to the virus. A pair of articles about the findings appeared July 9 in the online edition of Science.

Mental Decline Thwarted in Aging Rats

Scientists have discovered a compound that restores the capacity to form new memories in aging rats, likely by improving the survival of newborn neurons in the brain’s memory hub. The research, funded in part by NIH, has turned up clues to a neuroprotective mechanism that could lead to a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“This neuroprotective compound, called P7C3, holds special promise because of its medication-friendly properties,” explained Dr. Steven McKnight, who co-led the research with Dr. Andrew Pieper, both of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. “It can be taken orally, crosses the blood-brain barrier with long-lasting effects, and is safely tolerated by mice during many stages of development.”

The researchers reported their findings July 9 in the journal Cell.

“This striking demonstration of a treatment that stems age-related cognitive decline in living animals points the way to potential development of the first cures that will address the core illness process in Alzheimer’s disease,” said NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel.

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