Health Scan: Potential therapy to eliminate HIV virus

Also included: Which gender has better memory?

December 11, 2016 01:10
3 minute read.

Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

It may take years to benefit patients around the world, but an Israeli company says that a new HIV therapy has managed to eliminate 97% of the virus in 10 patients at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Called Gammora, the treatment has been produced by the Zyon Pharmaceutical company, which claims “the dramatic results give the company reason to believe Gammora will [also] be able to eliminate carcinogenic cells of all types. Clinical trials will start shortly in 12 cancer types in three medical centers; Zyon Pharmaceutical, in collaboration with drug developer Prof. Abraham Loyter from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Life Sciences and Prof. Zev Sthoeger, head of Kaplan’s AIDS Institute recently presented the results of initial small trials. In the next phase of the trial, the newly-developed drug will be given to patients as “compassionate use” with permission from the Health Ministry.

Zyon maintains that its method is a new way to eliminate cells that carry the HIV virus genome, which is the direct cause of AIDS. When a person contracts HIV, the virus enters the person’s cells, undergoing activation into that person’s genetic material. For various reasons, and unlike other viral infections, the body of the person infected with HIV cannot destroy the virus.

Gammora works with unique peptides (short protein segments) derived from integrase proteins expressed by the HIV virus and required for the viral infection process. These peptides cause multiple replications of the viral DNA to enter the infected cell instead of just one. This, in turn, triggers the cell’s self-destruction mechanism in a process called apoptosis.

Gammora impacts only the cells infected by the virus and not healthy ones. In this respect, the company says, it has an advantage over existing drugs since no adverse impact is expected to healthy cells, hence no side effects.

The researchers concluded that increased integration of the viral DNA into the chromosomes of the infected cell can enable complete elimination of the HIV-infected cells.

The company claimed that in view of the dramatic results and preliminary trials performed on carcinogenic cells, the drug under development will be able to destroy all types of carcinogenic cells. Its sister company Zyon Biomedic is expected to start clinical trials on 12 types of cancer in several Israeli medical centers.


In the battle of the sexes, women have long claimed that they can remember things better and longer than men can. A new study proves that middle-aged women outperform age-matched men on all memory measures, although memory does decline as women enter postmenopause. The study was recently published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Memory loss is, unfortunately a well-documented consequence of the aging process. Epidemiological estimates suggest that approximately 75% of older adults report memory-related problems. Women report increased forgetfulness and “brain fog” during the menopause transition. In addition, women are disproportionately at risk for memory impairment and dementia compared with men. Despite these conditions working against them, middle-aged women still outscore their similarly aged male counterparts on all memory measures, according to the study.

The cross-sectional study of 212 men and women aged 45 to 55 years assessed episodic memory, executive function, semantic processing, and estimated verbal intelligence through cognitive testing. Associative memory and episodic verbal memory were assessed using a Face-Name Associative Memory Exam and Selective Reminding Test.

In addition to comparing gender differences, the study also found that premenopausal and perimenopausal women outperformed postmenopausal women in a number of key memory areas. Declines in estradiol levels in postmenopausal women were specifically associated with lower rates of initial learning and retrieval of previously recalled information, while memory storage and consolidation were maintained.

“Brain fog and complaints of memory issues should be taken seriously,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “This study and others have shown that these complaints are associated with memory deficits.”

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