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Are you in week 10 or 12? Your second trimester or your third? Figuring out where exactly you are during your pregnancy is very important. However, pregnancy math can get confusing in general as week one of your pregnancy will start on the first day of your last menstrual period.

How many weeks is a full-length pregnancy?

Starting from the first day of your last menstrual period there are about 280 days or 40 weeks in a pregnancy. However, a full-term pregnancy is considered anywhere from 39 to 41 weeks long as not all pregnancies will exactly reach 40 weeks.

Image by Igor Link from Pixabay

A preterm or premature baby is delivered before 37 weeks of your pregnancy, existing different sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:

  • Extremely preterm (23 to 28 weeks)
  • Moderately preterm (29 to 33 weeks)
  • Late preterm (34 and 37 weeks)

Therefore, induction or caesarean birth should not be planned before 39 completed weeks unless medically indicated.

What is a trimester during pregnancy?

A normal pregnancy is divided into three different stages, called trimesters:

  • First trimester: the first trimester lasts from the very beginning of your pregnancy until you are 13 weeks plus 6 days pregnant.
  • Second trimester: the second trimester lasts from when you are 14 weeks to 27 weeks plus 6 days pregnant.
  • Third trimester: the third and final trimester last from you are 27 weeks pregnant until you give birth.
How many weeks pregnant is a month?

In the following chart you can check how the weeks, months, and trimesters of pregnancy line up with each other:

What happens during each week of pregnancy?

Find out what to expect during each week of pregnancy:

First trimester:

  • 1 week pregnant: Symptoms and what to expect
  • 2 weeks pregnant: Symptoms and what to expect
  • 3 weeks pregnant: symptoms, ultrasound and baby growth
  • 4 weeks pregnant: Placenta and embryo begin forming
  • 5 weeks
  • 6 weeks
  • 7 weeks
  • 8 weeks
  • 9 weeks
  • 10 weeks
  • 11 weeks
  • 12 weeks
  • 13 weeks

Second trimester:

  • 14 weeks
  • 15 weeks
  • 16 weeks
  • 17 weeks
  • 18 weeks
  • 19 weeks
  • 20 weeks
  • 21 weeks
  • 22 weeks
  • 23 weeks
  • 24 weeks
  • 25 weeks
  • 26 weeks

Third trimester:

  • 27 weeks
  • 28 weeks
  • 29 weeks
  • 30 weeks
  • 31 weeks
  • 32 weeks
  • 33 weeks
  • 34 weeks
  • 35 weeks
  • 36 week
  • 37 weeks
  • 38 weeks
  • 39 weeks
  • 40 weeks

References: WHO

Featured Image: Designed by macrovector / Freepik

The post How to calculate pregnancy in weeks, months and trimesters? appeared first on BeScienced.

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Looking to increase your daily laboratory productivity? The secret is to work smarter, not harder to make the most effective use of your time. However, this is easier said than done.

In the lab meeting or when meeting with your boss, scientist often have discussions about prioritizing experiments.

To make your life easier, @PracheeAC and @ibiology present the following experimental prioritization flowchart to help you to accomplishing the best experiments:

In this experimental prioritization decision tree, the authors identify five different type of experiments:

  • Slam dunk experiments: Experiments to do know with very high priority because they are very likely to work and require very short time.
  • High priority experiments: Important experiments that directly address your biological question, are likely to work and require long time.
  • Experiments to try when you have time: Experiments that are very risky to work but take short time to perform.
  • High-risk, high-reward experiments: Experiments that are very risky to work, require long time but there is big payoff if they work.
  • Trash it asap experiments: Experiments that not answer any biological question and require long time.

Do forget to have a printed version of this flowchart at your desk and look at it as often as you need.

Featured image: Pixabay

The post How to increase your lab efficiency with better experiments? appeared first on BeScienced.

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The muscular system is responsible for the movement of the human body and muscles come in all shapes and sizes.

In the muscular system, muscle tissue is categorized intothree distinct types:

  • Skeletal muscle: Skeletal muscles (also called voluntary muscles) are attached to bones by tendons and produce all the movements of body parts in relation to each other.
  • Smooth muscle: Smooth muscle is composed of involuntary muscles and generally forms the supporting tissue of blood vessels and hollow internal organs, such as the stomach, intestine, and bladder.
  • Cardiac muscle: Cardiac muscle are involuntary, striated muscles that constitutes the main tissue of the walls of the heart.
Which muscle is strongest in human body?

There is no easy answer to that question and the strongest muscle in the body is debatable. There are more than 600 muscles in the human body and everything depends on how you define “strongest”.

Many different muscles might be considered the strongest, depending upon exactly what kind of strength we are talking about. So here we have the top five strongest muscles in the human body based on different ways to measure strength:

Top 5 strongest muscles in the human body:Heart

The heart, which consists of cardiac muscle, is said to be the muscle that performs the largest quantity of physical work in the course of a lifetime. Highly coordinated contractions of cardiac muscle pump blood into the vessels of the circulatory system.

If you use an average of 80 beats per minute, your heart beats about 4,800 times per hour, 115,200 times per day and 42,048,000 times per year!

Masseter

The masseter is located in the jaw and is one of the muscles of mastication or chewing. If we define the “muscular strength” as the ability to exert a force on an external object, the masseter or jaw muscle is the strongest muscle in the human body based on its weight.

With all muscles of the jaw working together it can close the teeth with a force as great as 55 pounds (25 kilograms) on the incisors or 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) on the molars.

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus muscle is the largest of three gluteal muscles. It is a large muscle located in the buttocks and has the job of keeping the trunk of the body in an erect posture. If we define the “muscular strength” as the force exerted by the muscle itself, the strongest muscle of the body would be the gluteus maximus.

Soleus

The soleus is a powerful muscle in the back part of the lower leg and is said to be the muscle that can pull with the greatest force. The soleus muscle is very important for walking, running, and dancing.

It is considered a very powerful muscle because it pulls against the force of gravity to keep the body upright.

Uterus

The uterus is a hollow muscular organ located in the female pelvis between the bladder and rectum. Functions of the uterus include nurturing the fertilized ovum that develops into the fetus and holding it till the baby is mature enough for birth. 

The muscles of the uterus have the ability to stretch and contract with considerable force and the muscles used in childbirth.

The tongue is not the strongest muscle in the human body

Some people think the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body but it is definitely not the strongest one.

The tongue is an essential part of human anatomy. It does not get tired, is constantly working and you can do all kinds of acrobatics with it. However, the tongue is not in the top 5 of strongest muscles, first, because the it is not a single muscle, It is actually made up of eight different muscles. Second, while very strong and flexible, it is not strong enough to be in our list.

Images: Pixabay

The post What is the strongest muscle in the human body? appeared first on BeScienced.

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Although a fertilised egg may have implanted in your womb just two weeks ago, you are officially four weeks pregnant! It happens because pregnancies are measured from the first day of your last period rather than the day you actually conceived your baby.

How Many Months is 4 weeks pregnant?

There are 40 weeks in a pregnancy, starting from the first day of your last menstrual period. If you are 4 weeks pregnant, you are in month 1 of your pregnancy. Only 8 months more to go!

If you have more questions and want to know more about weeks, trimesters, months and due date during pregnancy you can visit our post about how to calculate pregnancy.

Your baby at 4 weeks pregnant

For the first 8 weeks of pregnancy your baby will be known as an embryo. The baby may be minuscule but big things are happening! At this stage, the embryo has three layers:

  1. The inner layer (endoderm) which will become the lungs, liver, digestive system and pancreas.
  2. The middle layer (mesoderm) which eventually develop into the skeleton, muscles, kidneys, blood vessels and heart.
  3. The outer layer (ectoderm) which will form the nervous system, teeth and skin.

The tiny baby inside you is about the size of a poppy seed (1-2 millimeter) and is growing rapidly in your womb.

In addition, the embryo is protected by an amniotic sac, which is filled with cushioning fluid, and attached to a tiny yolk sac that provides all the nourishment it needs. The outer layer will later develop into the placenta and provide your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Your body at 4 weeks pregnant

Conception usually takes place about 2 weeks after your last period, around the time you release an egg. Most women begin to feel symptoms around the week 5 or 6 of pregnancy. Therefore, if you think you could be pregnant but haven’t noticed any symptoms, you still might be.

However, you may start feeling that something is different in your body. The first thing most women notice is that their period doesn’t arrive and you may stat feeling very early physical symptoms:

  • Changes in your breast, including soreness and discomfort
  • You may develop cravings for some foods
  • Notice that your favourite foods and drinks are suddenly unappetising
  • You may feel exhausted and weepy
  • Mood swings

Other important early symptom of pregnancy is noticing some very light bleeding, or ‘spotting’, known as implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding usually happens about 10 days after ovulation when the fertilized egg attaches to the interior lining of the uterus and often happens around the time your period would have been due.

It is important to know that if you notice any bleeding at any stage of your pregnancy, it should be checked out by your doctor or midwife

Within 6 to 12 days after fertilization, the egg starts to release human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and by the time you are 4 weeks pregnant, you can usually get a clear positive on a urine pregnancy test. hCG is largely responsible for the nausea, or “morning sickness” that many women experience in the first trimester.

Can I find out the baby’s gender at week 4 of pregnancy?

Although your baby’s gender is determined at the moment of fertilization, you won’t know if you are having a baby boy or girl at week 4 of pregnancy and you will have to wait until your week 20 ultrasound.

Find out what to expect next week!

Images: Designed by Freepik and modified by Bescienced

The post 4 weeks pregnant – Placenta and embryo begin forming appeared first on BeScienced.

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From drinking a bottle of champagne for a celebration to open a soda while watching a good movie, everyone is familiar with fizz but… why do we hear a hissing sound when we open a soda?

As we all know, all carbonated beverages contain dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in the drink.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a nonpolar molecule formed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms, meaning that has low solubility in water

The solubility of any gas is directly proportional to the pressure applied on it. The carbonation process of soda involves pushing in CO2 through great pressure inside the water, reducing its volume, and pushing it into a small confined space.

To keep the soda carbonated, the pressure inside a soda is much higher than the pressure outside the soda bottle. Carbon dioxide prefers to be a gas, but inside a soda bottle where the pressure is high, it’s forced to be a liquid.

When the soda or a bottle of sparkling water is opened, there is suddenly a great pressure differential that needs to be equalised. As a result, the solubility of the carbon dioxide decreases, and the dissolved gas escapes as bubbles. This is the reason why we hear a hissing sound when we open a carbonated bottle.

Bubbles are pockets of carbon dioxide gas!

Once the the soda is opened, all of the gas will eventually escape from the liquid and the soda will go flat. Therefore, it is better to open the cap slowly to allow the gas to gradually expand and escape from the bottle, producing fizz.

What happens if you shake a soda?
20th Century Fox

When a soda or sparkling water is shaken, the extra gas at the top of the bottle is mixed with the liquid forming hundreds of microscopic bubbles. When the cap is taken off, the gas bubbles rapidly expand altogether while still in the liquid. As a consequence, the gas tries to escape the solution, pushing the liquid along with it and causing a non desirable spill.

What happens when you open a can of soda on the ocean floor?

The astronaut Chris Hadfiled did some experiments to test how life would be if we lived on the ocean floor.

This experiment included opening a can of soda when surrounded by 2 and a half atmospheres inside a submarine in the ocean floor. In addition, Chris vigorously shook the can before opening.

Surprisingly, when Chris opened the can of soda nothing happened. No bubbles, no messy spill. The pressure at the bottom of the sea is so high that no pressure is being released when the can is opened. The pressure inside the can is not as high as the pressure in the submarine.

Therefore, the solubility of the carbon dioxide is the same when the can is opened or when the can is closed.

Opening a Soda on the Ocean Floor - YouTube
Why do we use carbon dioxide and not gases as nitrogen in fizzy drinks?

There are two main reasons:

  1. While carbon dioxide is relatively soluble in water, other gases, such as nitrogen are more difficult to dissolve.
  2. When carbon dioxide dissolves, it reacts with water molecules to produce carbonic acid which is very important for the flavour and taste sensation.

However, beverages served “on nitro” are nothing new as nitro bubbles are finer than carbon dioxide bubbles and tend to reduce the perception of bitterness in beverages. Actually, Pepsi recently announced the launch of a nitrogen-infused version of its trademark soda called “Nitro Pepsi.”

Pepsi Announces Nitro Soda Launch - YouTube

Images: Pixabay and Freepik

The post What happens if you open a soda in a submarine? appeared first on BeScienced.

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The moment you have been waiting for has finally arrived. During week 3 of pregnancy, the fertilized egg is working its way from the fallopian tubes towards your uterus as, as described during week 2, a lucky sperm fertilized an egg last week.

However, it is so early you may have no idea that you are actually pregnant as there probably hasn’t been time for you to miss a period.

How Many Months is 3 weeks pregnant?

There are 40 weeks in a pregnancy, starting from the first day of your last menstrual period. If you are 3 weeks pregnant, you are in month 1 of your pregnancy. Only 8 months more to go!

If you have more questions and want to know more about weeks, trimesters, months and due date during pregnancy you can visit our post about how to calculate pregnancy.

Your baby at 3 weeks pregnant

For the first 8 weeks of pregnancy your baby will be known as an embryo. During the week 3 of pregnancy and within hours after conception, the egg divides into two cells, then four, and so on, until the growing cluster comprises around 100 cells. In addition it takes around three days for the fertilized egg to reach the uterus where it will attach itself to the lining of your womb. Probably the most important trip in your baby-to-be life.

Some of the cells on the surface will later develop into the placenta, while the small cluster of inner cells will grow into your baby.

Your body at 3 weeks pregnant

Most women begin to feel symptoms around the week 5 or 6 of pregnancy. However, you may start feeling that something is different in your body, including very early physical symptoms:

  • Changes in your breast, including soreness and discomfort
  • You may develop cravings for some foods
  • Notice that your favourite foods and drinks are suddenly unappetising
  • You may feel exhausted and weepy
  • Mood swings

However, although you may feel pregnant, it is unlikely you will get a clear result from a pregnancy test at this stage. There are home pregnancy tests that claim to detect a pregnancy 6 days before your period is due, but your human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (better known as hCG) levels may not be high enough to give a positive result.

In addition, some of the previously described pregnancy symptoms, such as tender breasts and moodiness, are similar to what you would feel just before your period.

At this early stage, the clearest sign that you are pregnant is a missed period and it will not happen until the end of next week.

Can I find out the baby’s gender at week 3 of pregnancy?

Although your baby’s gender is determined at the moment of fertilization, you won’t know if you are having a baby boy or girl at week 3 of pregnancy and you will have to wait until your week 20 ultrasound.

Find out what to expect next week!

Image: Designed by brgfx / Freepik

The post 3 weeks pregnant – symptoms, ultrasound and baby growth appeared first on BeScienced.

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There are two types of human immunodeficiency virus: type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2). HIV1 is the most widespread type and accounts for 95% of all infections worldwide.

HIV is a virus that damages the immune system and, without treatment, a person infected with HIV can develop acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition where the immune system is weakened leaving your body vulnerable to deadly infections.

Type I interferon (IFN) induction and the consequent expression of thousands of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) during infection are crucial in the induction of an antiviral state. Despite the described capacity of type I IFN to disrupt the replication of HIV-1, many key issues remain poorly understood, including the precise functions of the vast majority of ISGs, what molecular mechanism are employed.

Therefore, the identification of novel ISGs involved in the IFN-induced block to HIV-1 infection and mechanistic underpinnings are crucial for the therapeutic application of IFNs during HIV-1 infection, and possibly other chronic infections.

In a recent publication in Nature Microbiology, the authors demonstrated that IFN-mediated stimulation of the immunoproteasome, a proteasome isoform mainly present in immune cells, enables human TRIM5alpha as a key effector in the IFN-induced suppression of HIV-1 infection, including validation in primary human CD4+ T cells, the primary cell target of HIV.

Importantly, though rhesus macaque TRIM5alpha was discovered as an HIV-1 restriction factor in 2004, human TRIM5alpha has not generally been ascribed significant HIV-1 inhibitory function. In fact, TRIM5alpha proteins have been regarded as being virtually inactive against viruses in their natural hosts, but have been assigned as important inhibitors of cross-species transmissions. Therefore, the present study changes the long held dogma in the retrovirus field that human TRIM5alpha is virtually ineffective at inhibiting HIV-1.

What differentiates this study from others is that experiments were undertaken in the presence of interferon, as described above, a cytokine with well-established HIV-1 suppressor activity. In addition, this study demonstrates that loss-of-function screenings are an excellent complement to overexpression screenings because gene-by-gene strategies miss the identification of proteins that function in combination with other proteins.

Reference: Immunoproteasome activation enables human TRIM5α restriction of HIV-1.

The post Researches find the missing link between human TRIM5 and HIV-1 appeared first on BeScienced.

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 T cells. If left untreated, HIV infection eventually progresses until leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), being one of the world’s most serious public health challenges.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and more than 25 million people have died of HIV.

Restriction factors are host cellular proteins that constitute a first line of defense blocking viral replication and propagation potentially leading to viral inhibition. Therefore, increasing the knowledge and understanding the molecular mechanisms behind new HIV restriction factors, may lead to the development of drugs and new treatments and therapies to treat HIV infection.

Recently, a new HIV restriction factor has been described in the prestigious jornal Nature Microbiology. In this new study, Liu et al identified the P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1 (PSGL-1) as an HIV-1 restriction factor downregulated by HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu in an ubiquitin-mediated mechanism. This work opens  up a lot of new and exciting questions and will be extremely useful in further studies.

Reference: Proteomic profiling of HIV-1 infection of human CD4+ T cells identifies PSGL-1 as an HIV restriction factor

The post A new restriction against HIV-1 is born: PSGL-1 appeared first on BeScienced.

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After you get pregnant, you and your partner may get curious to know about the gender of your baby, one of the most exciting parts of your pregnancy. In addition, “is it a girl or a boy?” is one of the first questions of family and friends to a pregnant woman.

There are some early baby gender prediction methods used by old wives to determine if you are having a boy or a girl. Actually, the Internet is full of myths and fairy tales about it, including:

You are having a boy if:

  • Your baby’s heartbeat is lower than 140 beats per minute
  • You are carrying low or all out front
  • You are blooming in pregnancy
  • You didn’t suffer from morning sickness
  • You crave protein or salty food

You are having a girl if:

  • Your baby’s heartbeat is faster than 140 beats per minute
  • You are carrying high or all round
  • You are missing blooming in pregnancy
  • You suffered morning sickness
  • You crave sweet things

Although trying to predict your baby’s gender can make for a whole lot of fun, there is no real experimental evidence to confirm or deny these old wives’s tales and offer only a 50/50 chance of being accurate. Therefore, these tales should be taken with a pinch of salt and other methods, such as ultrasounds, should be used to find out your baby’s gender

When can you find out your baby’s sex by ultrasound?

Most pregnant women find out their baby’s gender (if parents want to know) before the birth during their mid-pregnancy ultrasound, at around 20 weeks. However, sometimes the ultrasound technician can’t tell what the baby’s sex is on ultrasound if the baby is not cooperating in a position that doesn’t allow the sexual organs to be seen. In that case, you would have to wait until another ultrasound later in your pregnancy to find out the gender.

Why should you wait until week 20 to find out your baby’s gender?

Although your baby’s sexual organs begins forming at 6 weeks, boy and girl babies look very similar on ultrasound until about 14-16 weeks. At this point it becomes more distinguishable but it isn’t always obvious and it can still be hard to differentiate them. Generally, by week 18, the ultrasound technician should be able to clearly identify the sex if the baby is cooperating.

Therefore, when it comes to your dating scan, at around 12 weeks, it is too early and ultrasound technicians are sceptical about the likelihood of an accurate prediction, even the most experienced sonographers.

Boy or girl? How babies’s sexual organs develop?

Your baby’s gender is determined at the moment of conception. Girls typically have an XX pair of sex chromosomes and boys an XY pair. The gender will depend on the sex chromosome carried by the sperm cell that fertilizes the egg.

Both, boys and girls develop in exactly the same way and have identical gonads and genital parts until around the eighth or nine week of gestation, when the genital tubercle begins to develop into a penis or clitoris as you can see in the next video:

Boy or Girl? | Parents - YouTube

Therefore, you wont’t be able to clearly start seeing the differentiated sex organs until 14 or 15 weeks. Actually, the testes in men are equivalent to labia and ovaries in women, and the penis is the equivalent of the clitoris. Interestingly, all babies would develop female genitals if it weren’t for the male hormone testosterone.

As you can see, at early pregnancy, a male and female genital tubercle can look very similar:

Photo credit: Marjorie England

Now you can see the problem in determining your baby’s gender before 20 weeks. It is not because ultrasound technicians can’t zoom in close enough the genitals, it is because all babies look like a baby boy.

What are ultrasound signs of having a boy or girl?

An ultrasound at around 18-20 weeks into the pregnancy is the most reliable way to tell a baby’s gender. It is called the fetal anatomy ultrasound and it is done to look for fetal anomalies, not simply to find out the sex of your baby.

At 20 weeks, the ultrasound technicians may examine your baby’s genitals and look for different signs, which suggest whether the baby is a girl or a boy:

Boy: The Turtle Sign:

You will know the baby is a boy if the image shows a small protrusion with the shape of turtle between the legs. Don’t confuse with the umbilical cord that is also shown at the same location.

Girl: The Hamburger Sign:

No sign of protrusion between the legs of the baby should be detected. Instead, it shows a hamburger-like structure withthree white lines in between the legs, representing the clitoris and labia.

Boy Ultrasound wrong: How could a girl be mistaken for boy?

We all know people who was told boy at 15 weeks scan and baby was born a girl. Actually, ultrasound technicians tend to over-predict boys more often than girls. This can happen, for example, if the baby is developing slowly and the tubercle hasn’t begun to point up or the umbilical cord could be between the legs and be mistaken for a penis.

Girl ultrasound wrong: How could a boy be mistaken for girl?

It is very importante to know that the absence a penis at early stages doesn’t automatically make the baby a girl. Therefore, it is very important to make a positive diagnosis, not a diagnosis of exclusion, as a boy can very easily get mistaken for a girl. To tell the correct gender, the ultrasound technician should find the ultrasound signs of having a girl: The hamburger sign with three white lines.

Can you know if a baby is a girl or boy before the 12 weeks ultrasound?

Yes, as early at around 10 weeks of pregnancy, a non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) can be performed. NIPT is a simple blood test that analyzes the baby’s DNA in the mother’s blood (yes, your blood contains fragments of DNA from your baby) and can identify the risk of chromosomal abnormalities such us Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome with 95-99% accuracy.

In addition, NIPT poses no risk to the baby and can also identify the sex of your baby as early as 10 weeks. Although extremely accurate at determining your baby’s sex, it is not 100% precise. The only way to know it for sure before birth is with an invasive diagnostic test like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

Images: Pixabay andFreepik

The post At how many weeks of pregnancy can you find out your baby’s gender? appeared first on BeScienced.

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) damages the cells in the immune system, reducing the number of some of the white blood cells (CD4+ T cells) in the body and weakening the ability to fight everyday infections and disease. If left untreated, HIV infection eventually progresses until the immune system is too weak to defend against cancers and life-threatening infections, leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) within 2 to 15 years after infection. Without treatment, people with AIDS typically survive for 3 years.

Since the first reported case of HIV in 1981, over 25 million people have died and millions of people are infected each year, being one of the most significant health and social problems facing the modern world.

Image by FotoshopTofs on Pixabay 

In recent years there have been many advances in HIV treatments and therapies that have dramatically improved the quality of life of people with HIV. Indeed, treatment can control HIV and enable people to live a long and healthy life with undetectable viral load. However, HIV infection remains incurable due to the permanent integration of HIV into the host cellular genome.

Interestingly, there is a rare group of HIV-positive individuals, referred to as “elite controllers”, who maintain undetectable viral loads in the absence of any treatment, without ever progressing to AIDS. As mentioned,  this happens very rarely and early studies were not successful in finding common causes for protection.

So far, although there is no effective cure for HIV, only one person in history is considered to have been effectively “cured” of HIV infection:

The Berlin patient

Timothy Ray Brown (The Berlin patient) was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2006, a cancer that affects white blood cells. To treat the leukemia, doctors first used chemotherapy and radiation to kill virtually all of his white blood cells and then, the patient received a hematopoietic stem cell transplant from a donor to give him the stem cells necessary to develop new white blood cells .

When choosing a bone marrow donor, doctors selected an individual with a rare mutation that alters one of the main co-receptors (CCR5) HIV uses to get inside white blood cells, resulting in a mutated CCR5 protein. Therefore, the patient’s own immune system was destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation, killing most of the HIV infected cells in his body and then replacing them with cells from a donor with the CCR5 mutation, resulting in a new immune system full of HIV-resistant cells.

Until now, this success had not been reproduced in other HIV-infected patients, mainly because of the small minority of viruses that use alternative receptors, such as CXCR4. However, more than a decade after the Berlin Patient, a new study recently published in Nature described a second patient free of HIV after stem-cell therapy: The London patient, suggesting the first case was not an anomaly.

The London patient

The London patient, who is remaining anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012. Again, after chemotherapy, the patient was treated with stem cell transplants from a donor who carried a mutation in CCR5, making his white cells resistant to HIV and being in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay 

These two patients were “functionally cured” or “in remission”, meaning that they don’t have to take medications and the viral load is undetectable (no HIV can be measured). However, it is too early to say they have been completely cured of HIV.

Therefore, although the method used is not appropriate for the millions of people around the world living with HIV because of HIV viruses using alternative receptors to CCR5 and the toxicity of chemotherapy and transplant-related side effects. The Berlin and London patients are the strongest proof that HIV can be “functionally cured”, offering hope for new future treatment strategies, including gene therapies.

Further reading and sources:

Past, present and future: 30 years of HIV research

The London Patient: HIV-1 remission following CCR5Δ32/Δ32 haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation

The Berlin patient: Long-Term Control of HIV by CCR5 Delta32/Delta32 Stem-Cell TransplantationSecond patient free of HIV after stem-cell therapy

The post Can HIV be cured? The London and Berlin patients appeared first on BeScienced.

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