HEALTH

AHF: Probiotic consumption may increase CD4 cell production in HIV patients

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES A new study looking at the role probiotics may play in increasing CD4 cell count in people with HIV is under way at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the foundation announced Tuesday.

Researchers at the AHF hypothesized that probiotic consumption may reduce leakage of Gram-negative bacteria from the intestine, thereby reducing the resulting inflammatory response and destruction of CD4 cells.

“The best solution we have today is the current range of antiretroviral drugs,” stated Homayoon Khanlou, lead researcher. “Some patients, despite taking these agents regularly, are not able to rebuild their immune system which is partly due to state of chronic inflammation created by disruption of gut ecosystem in HIV disease,” Khanlou said. “A positive result will provide a new affordable probiotics alternative to those who don’t achieve adequate immune restoration as well as a bridge for those who do not yet have access to HIV/AIDS drugs,” Khanlou added.

Researchers have initiated a 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to demonstrate safety and efficacy of taking capsules with 2 billion cells of a strain of Bacillus coagulans probiotics known as GanedenBC30 to increase critical CD4 cell count, a measure of immune status used to gauge progression of HIV infection.

The AHF trial is believed to be the first-of-its-kind in the United States, the Foundation stated, though small clinical trials conducted in Africa have shown that probiotic yogurts can dramatically increase CD4 cell count in people (test subjects) with HIV infection.

“There are many reasons why the previous trials in Africa haven’t received attention here in the U.S., partly because the subject populations are so different,” noted Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist and immunologist at Stanford University School of Medicine. “This new clinical trial testing probiotics’ impact on people living with HIV, if successful, would promote dialogue on this very important topic and definitely open up a great deal of interest among researchers.”

Researchers will enroll 24 subjects into the new clinical trial to take either a probiotic capsule or a placebo daily for 90 days. Several key immune measures, including CD4 cell count, will be taken at the start and end of the trial. The capsules will contain the Bacillus coagulans strain of probiotics, sold widely in the U.S. today as dietary supplements to help alleviate common gastrointestinal complaints and ward off cold and flu viruses. There is an additional hypothesis that the probiotic capsules will help alleviate the gastrointestinal symptoms that often accompany HIV infection, and the clinical trial will measure such changes with a widely used rating scale.

The new clinical trial will be partly funded by Ganeden Biotech, a Cleveland-based company that sells the Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086 probiotic strain in its Sustenex dietary supplements and to several food and beverage companies that add it as an ingredient to their products.

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CRN taps FDA’s Sharfstein as annual symposium’s keynote speaker

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Thursday announced the Food and Drug Administration’s principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein is slated to return as a keynote speaker at The Conference, CRN’s annual symposium for the dietary supplement industry.

Sharfstein will make the opening address to attendees, providing an update on the FDA’s dietary supplement-related regulatory activities on Sept. 30.

Sharfstein will discuss the impact of the current regulatory landscape of the recently fully implemented dietary supplement good manufacturing practices, as well as the adverse event reporting law. Sharfstein also will provide attendees with advice on what a responsible industry can do to aid the FDA in its mission to protect the public health.

Additionally, Sharfstein will update conference attendees on critical supplement industry issues, such as the new dietary ingredient notification guidance.

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WHO: H1N1 in post-pandemic period, but it’s not over

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK The World Health Organization’s director-general Margaret Chan issued a statement on Tuesday that the H1N1 influenza has entered the post-pandemic period, but warned that the virus has not yet gone away.

While WHO has reported marginal levels of H1N1 transmission worldwide as of late, Chan said it expects the H1N1 virus to take on the behavior of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.

 

NEW YORK The World Health Organization’s director-general Margaret Chan issued a statement on Tuesday that the H1N1 influenza has entered the post-pandemic period, but warned that the virus has not yet gone away.

While WHO has reported marginal levels of H1N1 transmission worldwide as of late, Chan said it expects the H1N1 virus to take on the behavior of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.

 

"Pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable," she said. "So is the immediate post-pandemic period. There will be many questions, and we will have clear answers for only some. Continued vigilance is extremely important, and WHO has issued advice on recommended surveillance, vaccination, and clinical management during the post-pandemic period.

 

"As I said, pandemics are unpredictable and prone to deliver surprises. No two pandemics are ever alike. This pandemic has turned out to be much more fortunate than what we feared a little over a year ago," Chan added.

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