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. Christos Mantzoros, MD, DSc, Director of the Human Nutrition Unit at BIDMC – and the first scientist to document the role of the hormone leptin in regulating the body’s response to hunger in humans – is the recipient of the Endocrine Society’s Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award for 2018. The award honors an internationally recognized clinical investigator who has contributed significantly to understanding of endocrine and metabolic diseases. “Metabolic diseases – obesity, diabetes and associated ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, strokes and some kinds of cancer – are the epidemics of the 21st century,” said Mantzoros. “Our group works hard to understand the mechanisms underlying these disorders, to prevent, diagnose and treat these disease states by developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools for these conditions.” In November, Mantzoros also accepted the Obesity Society’s 2017 TOPS Research Achievement Award. As the most prestigious award given by the Obesity Society, it recognizes an individual for singular achievement or contribution to research in the field.
. At the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, and colleagues presented preliminary findings from an ongoing study aiming to combat HIV. His team treated 44 monkeys infected with SHIV with antiretrovirals (ARVs) and continued for 2 years. In all 44 monkeys, the virus dropped to undetectable levels on standard blood tests. The researchers then divided the animals into four groups that received either nothing, a potent HIV antibody, a drug that binds to toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) that studs innate immune system cells, or the antibody plus the TLR7 drug. Sixteen weeks later, they stopped all ARVs. In the monkeys given the TLR7 drug or the antibody, 20 of 22 no longer could suppress the SHIV. But in the group that received the antibody plus the TLR drug, five of 11 animals did not see the SHIV return after 6 months and the others have low levels of the virus. “We’re very encouraged by this preliminary proof of concept study,” said Barouch.
. For the first time in the HIV epidemic that currently affects nearly 37 million people worldwide, some experts are starting to aim for a cure as they fashion the next generation of HIV treatments. In a study involving a form of HIV that infects monkeys, Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, and colleagues showed that a drug that stimulates the immune system and activates the dormant HIV, combined with a powerful antibody that can neutralize the HIV-infected cells, prevented HIV from surging back in five of 11 animals, six months after they stopped taking ARVs. In the monkeys whose HIV did return, the virus levels were 100 times lower than they were in animals that were not treated at all. “I think our data raises the possibility that an intervention achieving a functional cure is possible,” said Barouch. “It shows a level of potential efficacy, at least in animals, that to the best of my knowledge hasn’t been seen before.” The findings were presented this month at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.
. At the 25th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), researchers revealed the findings from a recent study that may inform strategies that attempt to achieve sustained, drug-free viral remission in people living with HIV. In the study, scientists led by Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC, worked with a group of 44 monkeys infected with an HIV-like infection. After receiving a course of antiretroviral therapy, approximately half of the monkeys infused with a broadly neutralizing antibody to HIV combined with an immune stimulatory compound suppressed the virus for six months without additional treatment.