Infectious Insights Blog

Now is the Time: HIV Cure

A couple years ago, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands convened dozens of leaders from science, government, philanthropy and industry at a meeting called the “Summit on Public-Private Partnerships for Research Toward a Cure.” IDRI was honored to be represented at this meeting as we discussed ways to bring HIV to an end. From this meeting the following strong and important consensus statement was agreed upon:  “More than 30 years into the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, scientific and clinical research has taken us to the point where a cure for HIV/AIDS is possible. Driven by the evidence supporting such possibility, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands recently brought together key stakeholders from academia, government, foundations, and industry to discuss what actions could be taken to accelerate efforts towards the goal of a cure for HIV infection. The group concluded that now is the time to work collectively and aggressively to reach this goal with the ultimate objective of making a cure available to every person in need, wherever they happen to live in the world. Although effective antiviral therapies exist that can control HIV infection, curing HIV/AIDS — eradicating the virus from infected individuals or eliminating the need for lifelong antiviral therapy — will require an extraordinary, collaborative global effort, backed by strong and sustained political and industrial leadership. We believe that developing a cure for HIV is one of the most important biomedical challenges of the 21st century. It is clear that the task is too large and too complex for any one laboratory, company, or country to undertake in isolation. […]

December 1st, 2015|

Antibiotic Resistance: Are You Contributing to the Problem?

How many times have you been prescribed antibiotics and didn’t finish the course of treatment? Maybe you were feeling better or  thought “I could save the rest of these in case I get sick again.” If so, you are a contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistance — and you might not realize it. This week, Nov. 16-22, has been designated by the World Health Organization as “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” designed to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices, such as completing a full course of antibiotics when prescribed and not sharing antibiotics prescribed for you with others. “The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global crisis. It’s one of the greatest threats to health today. This makes a broad range of common infections much more difficult to treat, replacement treatment are more costly, more toxic, and require much longer periods of time for treatment,” WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan said in a news conference. […]

November 16th, 2015|

The Emerald City: Filled with Generosity

NOTE: Susan Galea is Director, Global Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance, for Merck; she is working for three months at IDRI as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health program. Galea and another Merck fellow, Todd Kennedy, are working on the HIV Cure Initiative, for which IDRI serves as the fiscal sponsor. Maybe I have been drinking the philanthropic water of this city, but I would be remiss not to mention the generosity that I have seen from day one of my Fellowship. The substantial investment that Merck has provided for these Fellowships can’t be overlooked. Simply put, through the Fellows that they provide, Merck is attempting to fortify nonprofit organizations with technical and human support. Specifically, here in Seattle, they have paired Todd Kennedy and me with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and our sponsor Erik Iverson. This organization is genuinely advancing global health. Many of the world’s most devastating diseases are getting attention here as they focus on new diagnostics, adjuvants, drugs and vaccines for diseases such as leprosy, leishmaniasis and tuberculosis. So why is IDRI the fiscal sponsor for HIV Cure Initiative?  They believe in the importance of this collaboration and give generously of their time with the belief that they share with relevant scientists:  HIV can be functionally cured or at least put into a remission state. […]

October 20th, 2015|

Nobel Prize Calls Attention to Diseases of Poverty

A lot of excitement is generated during the week the Nobel Prizes are awarded. This particular Nobel week was extra special for any microbiologist or drug hunter as the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2015 was awarded to three scientists involved in discovering important and novel therapies for parasitic diseases – malaria and roundworms. Youyou Tu was awarded for the discovery of artemisinin, a product derived from a plant (sweet wormwood) used in traditional Chinese medicine, that had excellent activity against the malaria parasite. She was instrumental in discovering the active ingredient in the plant, which can be a difficult and long process, as well figuring out its chemical structure. This led to artemisinin becoming part of the treatment for malaria and a great deal of human suffering being avoided. Although artemisinin resistance has appeared, it still forms part of combination therapy used to treat malaria, and has formed part of new treatments that reduced death rates almost by half. […]

October 9th, 2015|

A Trip Back in Time: National Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, LA

Recently, I was in New Orleans to give a talk at Tulane University and found I had a few extra hours to explore. Instead of spending time in the French Quarter or on Bourbon Street, I knew where I wanted to visit: Carville, LA. This small town about 70 miles northwest of New Orleans is home to the National Hansen's Disease Museum, which honors the thousands of men and women who lived in Carville at the National Leprosarium of the U.S. while being treated for leprosy, as well as the health professionals who cared for the patients. The museum offers look at the disease and its effects, as well as how the discovery of antibiotics to treat the disease greatly helped patients. Some of the exhibits showed how everyday items -- from keys to food utensils to writing instruments -- were adapted for leprosy patients.  A typical patient's room is on [...]

May 19th, 2015|
Load More Posts