Tulane study identifies promising HIV drug, and other news of higher education

Researchers with the Tulane National Primate Research Center recently completed a study that showed injections of a new long-acting AIDS drug protected monkeys against infection by a virus similar to HIV.

During the study, researchers exposed 16 rhesus macaque monkeys to human-simian immunodeficiency virus. Half the monkeys received monthly injections of the new drug, GSK744, and the other half went untreated.

The results were striking: All the monkeys injected with the drug were protected, but those that did not receive the drug became infected.

GSK744 shows promise to improve upon current medications by providing longer-term protection from a single dose administered monthly and possibly only every three months. These animal studies give strong support for advancing to clinical testing of GSK744 in humans as a next-generation HIV prevention drug, scientists said.

Other researchers participating in the study were from the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, an affiliate of Rockefeller University; GlaxoSmithKline; and ViiV Healthcare. The study appears online in the journal Science

Loyola black law students to hold Scholarship Gala

The A.P. Tureaud Chapter of the Black Law Students Association at Loyola University will hold its 10th annual Scholarship Gala on March 14.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite Jr. will be the keynote speaker. Proceeds from the gala will benefit the Semora “Lola” Davis scholarship fund and chapter activities for the upcoming year.

The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain in City Park.

Tickets are $85 and can be purchased online at www.law.loyno.edu/black-law-student-association-gala.

For more information, contact Misha Logan at Mmlogan@loyno.edu.

UNO team seeks to make gold ‘peas in a pod’

University of New Orleans researchers have developed a process for the fabrication of complex microscopic gold structures that mimic peas in a pod. The research, which will appear in a European chemistry journal, could lead to new advances in a variety of areas including cancer treatment.

The process was developed by Shiv Adireddy, working under the direction of John Wiley, a professor of chemistry and associate director of UNO’s Advanced Materials Research Institute.

These very tiny — also known as nanoscale — structures are about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. They consist of chains of particles (the peas) surrounded by a ceramic-like sheet (the pod).

While the Wiley research group had previously shown the formation of peapod structures with one type of pea, the ability to make more complex multi-component peapods, especially those with gold, represents a major advance.

“The importance of these materials comes from the high level of control that we can exhibit at the nanoscale,” Wiley said. “If we are going to make important devices that are very small — whether it’s optical, electronic, sensors or medical devices — then this level of control is needed.”

Adireddy earned a doctorate from UNO in December based on this research. Wiley has been a faculty member at UNO for 20 years and holds the title of president’s research professor.

The research into peapod structures was started in 2011 under the Louisiana Board of Regents Post-Katrina Support Fund.

LSU model reduces oil-spill symptoms

A model of care developed by the department of psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans’ School of Medicine reduced both mental health and general medical symptoms for those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to officials at the school.

The novel approach embedded psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and telemedicine resources into primary care clinics in the most affected areas. The initiative is featured in the March 2014 issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, now available online.

“After researching existing models of care nationally, we found none fully adaptable to the post-disaster needs of close-knit, rural communities with inadequate availability of mental health resources,” said Howard Osofsky, professor and chairman of psychiatry at the LSU School of Medicine.

The model of integrative behavioral health in primary care clinics is based upon a team approach with centralized care management to coordinate the field efforts of the mental health specialists, extended by the use of telemedicine.

The five primary care clinics currently being served refer a total of 50 to 75 new patients a week to the team. The numbers will increase in 2014 with the addition of clinics in affected areas that are being rebuilt.

Significant decreases in psychiatric symptoms were found after one month, with further declines at the three-month mark. General medical symptoms have also shown significant improvement.