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Self-Identity, Beliefs, and Behavior Among Men Who Have Sex with Transgender Women: Implications for HIV Research and Interventions

Arch Sex Behav

2021 Ann Duerr; Michele Andrasik

While transgender women have been identified as a global priority population for HIV prevention and treatment, little is known about the cisgender male partners of transgender women, including their sexual behavior and HIV prevalence. Previous research has suggested that these male partners have varied identities and sexual behavior, which make identifying and engaging them in research difficult. This paper describes interviews conducted with fifteen cisgender men who reported recent sexual activity with transgender women in Lima, Peru. The purpose of this research was to explore how these men reported their identities and sexual behavior, to better understand how they would interact with HIV outreach, research, and care. The major themes were sexual orientation and identity; view of transgender partners; social ties to transgender women and other men with transgender women partners; disclosure of relationships; HIV knowledge and risk perception; and attitudes toward interventions. We found that language used to assess sexual orientation was problematic in this population, due to lack of consistency between orientation and reported behavior, and unfamiliarity with terms used to describe sexual orientation. In addition, stigma, lack of knowledge of HIV prevention methods, and fear of disclosure of sexual behavior were identified as barriers that could impact engagement in HIV research, prevention, and care. However, participants reported social relationships with both transgender women and other men who have transgender partners, presenting possible avenues for recruitment into HIV research and healthcare services.

Human parainfluenza virus evolution during lung infection of immunocompromised humans promotes viral persistence

J Clin Invest

2021 Michael Boeckh; Alex Greninger

The capacity of respiratory viruses to undergo evolution within the respiratory tract raises the possibility of evolution under the selective pressure of the host environment or drug treatment. Long-term infections in immunocompromised hosts are potential drivers of viral evolution and development of infectious variants. We show that intra-host evolution in chronic human parainfluenza virus 3 (HPIV3) infection in immunocompromised individuals elicited mutations that favor viral entry and persistence, suggesting that similar processes may operate across enveloped respiratory viruses. We profiled longitudinal HPIV3 infections from two immunocompromised individuals that persisted for 278 and 98 days. Mutations accrued in the HPIV3 attachment protein hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN), including the first in vivo mutation in HN's receptor binding site responsible for activating the viral fusion process. Fixation of this mutation was associated with exposure to a drug that cleaves host cell sialic acid moieties. Longitudinal adaptation of HN was associated with features that promote viral entry and persistence in cells, including greater avidity for sialic acid and more active fusion activity in vitro, but not with antibody escape. Long term infection thus led to mutations promoting viral persistence, suggesting that host-directed therapeutics may support the evolution of viruses that alter their biophysical characteristics to persist in the face of these agents in vivo.

HIV-1 Nucleic Acids Identify Rectal HIV Exposures in Self-Collected Rectal Swabs, Whereas Y-Chromosome Single Tandem Repeat Mixtures Are Not Reliable Biomarkers of Condomless Receptive Anal Intercourse

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr

2021 Julie McElrath; Hayley Glantz; Michele Andrasik

BACKGROUND: To focus interventions, biomarkers of HIV-1 exposure could help in identifying subpopulations at highest risk of acquisition. We assessed whether Y-chromosome single tandem repeat (YSTR) mixtures obtained from rectal swabs could serve as a biomarker of condomless receptive anal intercourse (CRAI) among men who have sex with men and transgender women and evaluated the feasibility of detecting HIV-1 virions to assess exposures. METHODS: Twenty-nine sexually active HIV-seronegative men who have sex with men and one transgender woman from New York City answered on-site and mobile app sexual behavior questionnaires. They were randomized to collecting self-administered rectal swabs every morning or after receptive anal intercourse (RAI). YSTR profiles were assessed from blood sample and swabs; HIV-1 exposure was measured by conducting quantitative polymerase chain reaction in swabs. RESULTS: After 2 months, the daily mobile survey had 135%-201% more instances of anal sex acts and 170%-193% more RAI than on-site surveys. Daily mobile reporting had 11%-35% less CRAI events than those reported on-site (Pdaily = 0.001; Pper-sex = 0.047). The daily swabbing arm reported less RAI (P < 0.001) and CRAI (P < 0.038) and had 2.95 lower odds of detecting YSTR mixtures (P = 0.021) than the per-sex-event arm. Surprisingly, YSTR detection was not significantly modified by report of bowel movements and lubricant, enema, or condom use. No participant became HIV-1 infected, yet HIV-1 total nucleic acids were detected in 6 independent episodes of CRAI in 2 participants taking pre-exposure prophylaxis. CONCLUSIONS: YSTR mixtures demonstrated 80% specificity but only 30% sensitivity as a biomarker of CRAI in self-collected rectal swabs. However, detection of HIV-1 exposures in self-collected swabs may help in identifying those needing further HIV risk reduction strategies.

Immune signatures underlying post-acute COVID-19 lung sequelae

Sci Immunol

2021 Justin Taylor; Jim Boonyaratanakornkit

[Figure: see text].

Genome editing in large animal models

Mol Ther

2021 Hans-Peter Kiem; Olivier Humbert; Lucy Maynard; Christopher Peterson

Although genome editing technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we treat human diseases, barriers to successful clinical implementation remain. Increasingly, preclinical large animal models are being used to overcome these barriers. In particular, the immunogenicity and long-term safety of novel gene editing therapeutics must be evaluated rigorously. However, short-lived small animal models, such as mice and rats, cannot address secondary pathologies that may arise years after a gene editing treatment. Likewise, immunodeficient mouse models by definition lack the ability to quantify the host immune response to a novel transgene or gene-edited locus. Large animal models, including dogs, pigs and non-human primates, bear greater resemblance to human anatomy, immunology and lifespan, and can be studied over longer timescales with clinical dosing regimens that are more relevant to humans. These models allow for larger scale and repeated blood and tissue sampling, enabling greater depth of study and focus on rare cellular subsets. Here, we review current progress in the development and evaluation of novel genome editing therapies in large animal models, focusing on applications in HIV-1 infection, cancer, and genetic diseases including hemoglobinopathies, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, hypercholesterolemia, and inherited retinal diseases.

Phase 3 Safety and Efficacy of AZD1222 (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) Covid-19 Vaccine

N Engl J Med

2021 Julie Hunt; Holly Janes; William Hahn; Larry Corey

BACKGROUND: The safety and efficacy of the AZD1222 (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine in a large, diverse population at increased risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2) infection in the United States, Chile, and Peru has not been known. METHODS: In this ongoing, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 clinical trial, we investigated the safety, vaccine efficacy, and immunogenicity of two doses of AZD1222 as compared with placebo in preventing the onset of symptomatic and severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) 15 days or more after the second dose in adults, including older adults, in the United States, Chile, and Peru. RESULTS: A total of 32,451 participants underwent randomization, in a 2:1 ratio, to receive AZD1222 (21,635 participants) or placebo (10,816 participants). AZD1222 was safe, with low incidences of serious and medically attended adverse events and adverse events of special interest; the incidences were similar to those observed in the placebo group. Solicited local and systemic reactions were generally mild or moderate in both groups. Overall estimated vaccine efficacy was 74.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 65.3 to 80.5; P<0.001) and estimated vaccine efficacy was 83.5% (95% CI, 54.2 to 94.1) in participants 65 years of age or older. High vaccine efficacy was consistent across a range of demographic subgroups. In the fully vaccinated analysis subgroup, no severe or critical symptomatic Covid-19 cases were observed among the 17,662 participants in the AZD1222 group; 8 cases were noted among the 8550 participants in the placebo group (<0.1%). The estimated vaccine efficacy for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection (nucleocapsid antibody seroconversion) was 64.3% (95% CI, 56.1 to 71.0; P<0.001). SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding and neutralizing antibodies increased after the first dose and increased further when measured 28 days after the second dose. CONCLUSIONS: AZD1222 was safe and efficacious in preventing symptomatic and severe Covid-19 across diverse populations that included older adults. (Funded by AstraZeneca and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04516746.).

Single-dose HPV vaccination efficacy among adolescent girls and young women in Kenya (the KEN SHE Study): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Trials

2021 Rachel Winer; Nelly Mugo; Ruanne Barnabas; Deborah Donnell; Elizabeth Brown; Denise Galloway

BACKGROUND: HPV infection is the primary cause of cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer among women in Kenya and many sub-Saharan African countries. High coverage of HPV vaccination is a World Health Organization priority to eliminate cervical cancer globally, but vaccine supply and logistics limit widespread implementation of the current two or three dose HPV vaccine schedule. METHODS: We are conducting an individual randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether a single dose of the bivalent (HPV 16/18) or nonavalent (HPV 16/18/31/33/45/52/58/6/11) HPV vaccine prevents persistent HPV infection, a surrogate marker for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. The primary objective is to compare the efficacy of immediate, single-dose bivalent or nonavalent vaccination with delayed HPV vaccination. Kenyan women age 15-20years old are randomized to immediate bivalent HPV and delayed meningococcal vaccine (group 1), immediate nonavalent HPV vaccine and delayed meningococcal vaccine (group 2), or immediate meningococcal vaccine and delayed HPV vaccine (group 3) with 36months of follow-up. The primary outcome is persistent vaccine-type HPV infection by month 18 and by month 36 for the final durability outcome. The secondary objectives include to (1) evaluate non-inferiority of antibody titers among girls and adolescents (age 9 to 14years) from another Tanzanian study, the DoRIS Study (NCT02834637), compared to KEN SHE Study participants; (2) assess the memory B cell immune response at months 36 and 37; and (3) estimate cost-effectiveness using the trial results and health economic models. DISCUSSION: This study will evaluate single-dose HPV vaccine efficacy in Africa and has the potential to guide public health policy and increase HPV vaccine coverage. The secondary aims will assess generalizability of the trial results by evaluating immunobridging from younger ages, durability of the immune response, and the long-term health benefits and cost of single-dose HPV vaccine delivery. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03675256 . Registered on September 18, 2018.

Post-Transplant cyclophosphamide is associated with increase in Non-CMV Herpesvirus infections in Acute leukemia and MDS patients

Transplant Cell Ther

2021 Joshua Hill

BACKGROUND: There is increasing use of post-transplant cyclophosphamide (PTCy) for GVHD prophylaxis for both haploidentical and fully matched transplants. Published studies have reported an increased incidence of CMV infection with the use of PTCy. Limited data exist regarding the incidence and outcomes of infection with non-CMV herpes viruses (NCHV) in this setting. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the cumulative incidence of NCHV infections and the association of NCHV infections with transplant-specific outcomes in patients receiving haploidentical transplant with PTCy(HaploCy), matched sibling donor transplant with PTCy (SibCy) or matched sibling donor transplant with calcineurin inhibitor based prophylaxis (SibCNI). We hypothesized that, like CMV infection, patients receiving haploidentical transplant with PTCy will have higher risk of NCHV infections. STUDY DESIGN: Using the CIBMTR database, we analyzed patients (HaploCy, n=757; SibCNI, n=1605; SibCy, n=403) receiving first hematopoietic stem-cell transplant between 2012 and 2017 for acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. RESULTS: The cumulative incidence of non-CMV herpes virus infection at six months post-transplant in the HaploCy, SibCy and SibCNI were 13.9% (99%CI=10.8-17.3%), 10.7% (99%CI=7.1-15%), and 5.7% (99%CI=4.3-7.3%), p<0.001 respectively. This was primarily due to a higher frequency of HHV-6 viremia reported in patients receiving PTCy. Incidence of Epstein-Barr viremia was low in all groups and no cases of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder were seen in PTCy groups. The incidence of non-CMV herpes virus organ disease was low in all three cohorts. Development of NCHV infection was associated with increased treatment-related mortality, particularly in the HaploCy group. There was no association with the development of GVHD, relapse, and disease-free survival. Patients in PTCy cohorts who did not develop non-CMV herpes virus infection had lower rates of cGVHD. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that the use of PTCy is associated with increased risk of NCHV infection. Development of NCHV infection is associated with increased non-relapse mortality, especially in HaploCY group. Prospective trials should consider viral surveillance strategies in conjunction with assessment of immune reconstitution for better understanding of the clinical relevance of viral reactivation in different transplant settings.

High-throughput single-cell quantification of hundreds of proteins using conventional flow cytometry and machine learning

Sci Adv

2021 Raphael Gottardo; Mark Headley; Etienne Becht; Daniel Tolstrup; Evan Newell

[Figure: see text].

Structurally related but genetically unrelated antibody lineages converge on an immunodominant HIV-1 Env neutralizing determinant following trimer immunization

PLoS Pathog

2021 Safia Aljedani; Marie Pancera; Tyler Liban; Justas Rodarte; Suruchi Singh

Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which antibodies target and neutralize the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) is critical in guiding immunogen design and vaccine development aimed at eliciting cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies (NAbs). Here, we analyzed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) isolated from non-human primates (NHPs) immunized with variants of a native flexibly linked (NFL) HIV-1 Env stabilized trimer derived from the tier 2 clade C 16055 strain. The antibodies displayed neutralizing activity against the autologous virus with potencies ranging from 0.005 to 3.68 μg/ml (IC50). Structural characterization using negative-stain EM and X-ray crystallography identified the variable region 2 (V2) of the 16055 NFL trimer to be the common epitope for these antibodies. The crystal structures revealed that the V2 segment adopts a β-hairpin motif identical to that observed in the 16055 NFL crystal structure. These results depict how vaccine-induced antibodies derived from different clonal lineages penetrate through the glycan shield to recognize a hypervariable region within V2 (residues 184-186) that is unique to the 16055 strain. They also provide potential explanations for the potent autologous neutralization of these antibodies, confirming the immunodominance of this site and revealing that multiple angles of approach are permissible for affinity/avidity that results in potent neutralizing capacity. The structural analysis reveals that the most negatively charged paratope correlated with the potency of the mAbs. The atomic level information is of interest to both define the means of autologous neutralization elicited by different tier 2-based immunogens and facilitate trimer redesign to better target more conserved regions of V2 to potentially elicit cross-neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies.