HIV and the Brain: Highlights of the Seventh Neuroscience of HIV Infection Meeting
Paris, for centuries a hotbed of cool reason, hosted a thought-provoking
assembly of neurologists at the seventh Neuroscience of HIV Infection
meeting on March 6-9. A report on the conference in the June issue of the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care
, features the following
highlights. The June issue also includes an interview with neurologist Justin C. McArthur of Johns Hopkins University, one of the plenary speakers at the Paris conference.
- Several key investigators concurred that the treatment of
HIV-neurocognitive disorders should be three-pronged: Attack the virus.
Attenuate the inflammation. Protect the neurons. So far, though, only the
first prong--antiretroviral therapy--is hitting home.
- One neuron-protecting therapy, with a vitamin E-like antioxidant labeled
OPC 14,117, passed muster in a 30-person placebo-controlled trial. There
were trends toward improved memory and motor speed in cognitively impaired
individuals who got the drug. But the study was too small to show
- Oxandrolone, an anabolic steroid being tested for AIDS-related wasting
and myopathy, showed significant weight-sustaining activity in a small
placebo-controlled study. But it did not improve muscle strength at a dose
of 15 mg daily.
- A placebo-controlled trial of SNX-111, for relief of severe pain, is
recruiting 150 individuals with cancer or AIDS after pilot studies
demonstrated this synthetic peptide's effect in some people with
- In an interview with the Journal, Justin McArthur said that a trial of
nerve growth factor for neuropathic pain is just getting started. Current
treatments for neuropathy are symptomatic, he pointed out, but nerve growth
factor may be restorative.
- Two groups detailed evidence that a syndrome called minor cognitive motor
disorder precedes frank dementia in people with HIV and is a harbinger of
AIDS and shortened survival.
- Two Italian studies suggested that PCR of cerebrospinal fluid may be an
accurate and minimally invasive diagnostic procedure for several
HIV-associated neurologic conditions.
- The details of HIV neuropathogenesis continue to elude researchers. But
Leon Epstein of the University of Rochester noted that effective therapy
does not depend on a total understanding of pathogenesis. Clues that emerge
from ongoing study can point to potential remedies.
©1996, Medical Publications Corporation