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Rare flu-thwarting mutation discovered

Rare flu-thwarting mutation discovered

A rare and improbable mutation in a protein encoded by an influenza virus renders the virus defenseless against the body’s immune system. This University of Rochester Medical Center discovery could provide a new strategy for live influenza vaccines in the future. A new approach to the live flu vaccine would be particularly advantageous right now after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped recommending use of the live attenuate flu vaccine, FluMist® earlier this year. Several studies found that the pain-free nasal spray, which was used in about one-third of young children in the U.S., offered no protection to that especially vulnerable population. The flu shot, on the other hand, performed well and the CDC recommends using this vaccine in place of FluMist®. “There is a need to understand what’s happening with the existing live vaccine and potentially a need to develop a new one,” said David Topham, Ph.D., Marie Curran Wilson and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC and author of the study. “We proposed that the mutation we found could be used to create a live vaccine.” The mutation weakens the flu virus by making the flu-encoded protein, called Non-Structural 1 (NS1), defunct. Flu virus needs NS1 to prevent interferon, the immune system’s front line against viruses, from alerting the host cell that it has been infected. Inhibiting interferon affords the virus time to multiply and spread before the immune system can mount an attack. Most people have healthy interferon responses and would quickly and easily fend off this weakened mutant strain of flu, but, “this virus somehow managed to find the...
American Society for Radiation Oncology, Sept. 25-28

American Society for Radiation Oncology, Sept. 25-28

The 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology The annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology was held from Sept. 25 to 28 in Boston and attracted approximately 11,000 participants from around the world, including physicians, oncology nurses, radiation therapists, biologists, physicists, and other cancer researchers. The conference featured educational courses focusing on radiation, surgical, and medical oncology. In a randomized controlled trial, Paul D. Brown, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues compared the efficacy of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) to the historic standard of care, whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT), in patients with cancer that had metastasized to the brain. “In our trial, there was no difference in survival between the treatment groups. The patients treated with SRS had better quality of life, better cognitive function, and less toxicity. Furthermore, due to less time commitment and a quicker recovery after SRS, patients treated with SRS can restart systemic therapies more rapidly,” Brown said. “Our results confirm that postoperative SRS should be a standard of care since there is no significant difference in survival whether a patient receives postoperative SRS or WBRT, and SRS avoids the well-known toxicities of WBRT and provides better preservation of cognitive function and quality of life.” Press Release In another study, Anita Mahajan, M.D., of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues found that postoperative SRS significantly reduces the risk of local relapse after a complete surgical resection of a brain metastasis. The investigators randomized 128 patients who had one to three metastatic brain tumors (of which at least one was completely surgically resected) to...
Risk of reinfection is a concern after successful hepatitis C treatment

Risk of reinfection is a concern after successful hepatitis C treatment

People on opiate agonist substitution therapy can be successfully treated with grazoprevir/elbasvir (Zepatier) – achieving cure rates similar to those of the population as a whole – but some people are reinfected with hepatitis C virus after being cured, suggesting that a greater emphasis on post-treatment prevention may be needed, according to presentations at the 5th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2016) this month in Oslo. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is easily transmitted through shared drug injection equipment and current and former injection drug users have high rates of infection. However, some providers and insurers still consider people who inject drugs to be poor candidates for hepatitis C treatment and people who use drugs have typically been excluded from most clinical trials of new hepatitis C therapies. An exception was the C-EDGE CO-STAR study, a phase 3 trial evaluating Merck’s HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor grazoprevir and HCV NS5A inhibitor elbasvir, which was specifically designed for injection drug users receiving opioid substitution therapy (OST). At INHSU, Olav Dalgard of Akershus University Hospital in Oslo reported findings from an analysis of reinfections in CO-STAR. Later the same day, Håvard Midgard, also at Akershus University, discussed the clinical and public health implications of HCV reinfection following sustained virological response (SVR). It is not clear how often HCV reinfection occurs. Dr Midgard reviewed 11 published studies of reinfection among people who inject drugs, including several from the interferon era, which found reinfection rates of 5 per 100 person years (PY) or less (pooled estimate 2.1). Looking at a smaller subset of people who inject drugs who were reinfected after...
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