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. On Tuesday, October 31 from 12-2 PM, the HMS Initiative for RNA Medicine and the BIDMC Technology Ventures Office will co-host a lunchtime panel discussion in the Pechet Room at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center. Speakers: Sudhir Agrawal, DPhil; Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD; Jason Rhodes, MBA. Moderators: Frank Slack, PhD; Wanni A. Davis, PhD, MBA.
. It takes a cocktail of drugs to treat HIV. It could take a cocktail of antibodies to prevent HIV as well, suggests a study published in Science Translational Medicine. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, and colleagues found through the study that a cocktail of antibodies is required to protect monkeys against a mixed virus challenge, whereas single antibodies were unable to protect. This data suggests that a mixture of antibodies will likely be more effective than single antibodies for HIV prevention and therapy. “One of the unique features about HIV that is a big challenge for both vaccine and therapeutic development is virus variability,” said Barouch. “There is a huge number of different genetic variants of the virus and there isn't any single antibody that covers all viruses. So, to get complete protection, we will almost certainly need multiple antibodies targeting different regions of the virus and protein.”
. A new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, says the Zika virus—a mosquito-borne illness that causes severe birth defects in newborns—may be able to kill glioblastoma brain cancer cells without damaging healthy tissue. Glioblastoma tumors grow from a mass of unspecified cells in the brain—cells quite similar to those that Zika attacks in nervous systems. A collaboration of researchers, including from the Cleveland Clinic, posited that Zika might also be able to kill the brain cancer cells. Researchers injected Zika into mouse models of glioblastoma, removed human glioblastoma samples, and healthy sample brain tissue. They found that mice treated with Zika survived longer and the human glioblastoma cells did not multiply after seven days. But it’s still the very early days, cautions Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, who was not involved in the study. That said, Barouch notes that other viruses have shown promise against glioblastoma in the past. “It’s not the first time this concept has been proposed,” said Barouch. “Some viruses can get into cancer cells particularly well and can kill cancer cells.”
. A new study led by researchers at BIDMC and the University of Pennsylvania sheds light on a protein that elicits a protective response in the liver that might be targeted to help treat alcoholic liver disease. The team also found that the same protective response may be involved in aversion to alcohol and could therefore help in the treatment of alcoholism. The study, published in Molecular Metabolism, revealed people who binged on alcohol over a one-hour period exhibited massive increases of a protein called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) in their blood six hours later. “We showed that alcohol consumption induces FGF21 as a protective response in the liver that reduces the degree of alcohol-induced damage,” said co-senior author Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC. “Our results may encourage the development of drugs that mimic FGF21 for the treatment of alcoholic liver disease, and possibly to produce alcohol aversion.”