THE PITT NEWS - When an outbreak of HIV hit the U.S. in the early 1980s, not much was known about the virus or how it spread. Scientists, researchers, and volunteers at Pitt have been working for almost four decades to try and change that. Reflecting on 40 years means celebrating successes, lamenting that the cure hasn't yet been found, and commending those original study participants that came forward in a tumultuous and uncertain time.
UPMC NEWS - IDM Chair Charles Rinaldo recently received the news that a major study he directs to confidentially collect information on men living with HIV will be renewed into 2026 at nearly $4 million per year. The funding from the National Institutes of Health ensures that the Pitt Men's Study will survive into its fourth decade. But today, on HIV Long-Term Survivors Day, Rinaldo calls the remarkable milestone bittersweet.
ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - In a first on the quest to cure human immunodeficiency virus, IDM's Robbie Mailliard and colleagues developed an all-in-one immunotherapy approach that not only kicks HIV out of hiding in the immune system, but also kills it. The key lies in immune cells designed to recognize an entirely different virus.
90.5 WESA - Pitt researchers have found that previous exposure to Dengue Fever lowers the risk of infection from the Zika virus. “If we use currently approved Dengue vaccines or vaccines that are already close to become approved, you could boost Dengue responses... and could provide some degree of protection [against the Zika virus]” said IDM's Ernesto Marques, the study’s senior author.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW - "At this point, I'm not confident it is a permanent change for the good or if we're just returning to the expected curve," Dean Donald Burke said. "In our paper in Science a few months ago, we showed overdoses from all drugs, not just opioids, have been growing exponentially for 40 years. Occasionally it speeds up and slows down, but the growth curve always snapped back."
THE ECONOMIST - Charting overdose deaths shows an exponential curve increasing at a constant clip of 7.6% per year. Some modellers argue that the death curve might even continue its acceleration. “Anyone who tells me otherwise has to show me why that curve should bend now when it hasn’t in the face of the war on drugs and the rise and fall of other drugs,” says Dean Donald Burke.
INFECTION CONTROL TODAY - A high proportion of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases can be cured in conflict-affected communities with molecular diagnostics, shorter treatment periods, and socioeconomic incentives, according to the results of a large, long-term study in the Democratic Republic of Congo led by IDM and EPI's Jean Nachega.
WPXI - Pitt researchers are looking to lessons learned about Zika when preparing for the possibility of Rift Valley Fever virus, noting that it's important to develop therapies and vaccines now. "We saw the ffects of Zika when it got into a larger population and so our work highlights the need to really do more investigation into what would happen in pregnant women infected with [Rift Valley] virus," said IDM's Amy Hartman, who also pointed out ...
HERALD-MAIL MEDIA - Many Americans who were first exposed to opiates by prescription have continued to misuse the drugs over many years. Until these people either are treated or die of overdoses, they form a "reservoir" of potential victims for the spiraling epidemic, said Dean Donald S. Burke.
The higher a person's immunity to dengue virus, the lower their risk of Zika infection, an international team of scientists reported in the journal Science. The study also provides evidence that Brazil's Zika epidemic has largely petered out because enough people acquired immunity to reduce the efficiency of transmission. The discovery relied on tests for dengue and Zika developed by IDM's Ernesto Marques and his team and patented by Pitt.
PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE - Robert Yee was as brilliant as he was modest. "One of the godfathers" of Pitt Public Health, Yee mentored hundreds of students and played a pivotal role as a researcher who made several "breakthrough" discoveries about bacteria.
ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Like Zika, infection with Rift Valley fever virus can go unnoticed during pregnancy, all the while doing irreparable - often lethal - harm to the fetus. The results of a new study underscore the importance of disease prevention for pregnant woment and set the stage for vaccine development.
MEDICAL RESEARCH - "HIV infection is a manageable disease with the advent and availability of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). But, when ART is interrupted, the virus quickly rebounds to high levels and again targets the immune system. Therefore, new immunotherapeutic treatments are sought to re-program the immune system to control the virus after ART interruption," said IDM's Tatiana Garcia-Bates.
THE NEW YORK TIMES - The mosquito-borne virus that causes Rift Valley fever may severely injure human fetuses if contracted by mothers during pregnancy, according to new research by IDM's Amy Hartman. "Zika caught everybody by surprise," said Hartman. "If doctors had known about Zika's birth effects, they could have done a lot more to protect pregnant women and babies. With Rift Valley fever, we're trying to get ahead of the curve."