Nov 7, 2019

Scientists discover first new strain of HIV since 2000

Photo: Yegor Aleyev/TASS via Getty Images

A new strain of HIV — the first since 2000 — was identified using advanced DNA sequencing. The strain is under the group of the disease responsible for the vast majority of human infections, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: While the new strain has infected only three people, who live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these findings, via HIV test maker Abbott Laboratories, could kick off a larger conversation on how to classify new viral strains that could surface from the wider implementation of advanced DNA sequencing technology.

Go deeper: The growing HIV epidemic among young men in the Philippines

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HIV-positive babies could benefit from treatment days after birth

Antiretroviral drugs, administered within days of birth, appeared to bring HIV in newborns down to undetectable levels.

Why it matters: About 500 babies in sub-Saharan Africa are born with HIV every day, NPR reports. Though these early-treated children are not cured yet, researchers' recent study published in Science Translational Medicine shows encouraging results from a clinical trial in Botswana.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019

Federal lawsuit against Gilead puts patent rights on trial

Truvada generated $3 billion of sales in 2018. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Trump administration's decision to sue Gilead Sciences — the maker of HIV prevention pills known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — pours gasoline on the debate about how patents and prices should work when important drugs are developed by both public institutions and private companies.

Yes, but: "None of this will address drug pricing more generally or the unique circumstances of the HIV drug market," Jen Kates, an HIV policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a thread on Twitter. "And ultimately, the stakes are quite high given that PrEP can save lives."

Report: Huge oversights in Chinese scientist's gene-edited babies attempt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals

MIT Technology Review released excerpts of Chinese scientist He Jiankui's unpublished research on Tuesday, underscoring massive ethical and practical oversights in his claim that he successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to create genetically engineered children.

The bottom line: A primary goal of the experiment was to test if cells could be gene-edited to become HIV resistant. This could have been done without creating human test subjects, MIT notes.

Go deeperArrowDec 4, 2019