05-25-2018  11:52 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

The Latest: 3 injured in hit-and-crash in downtown Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on hit-and-crash in Portland, Oregon (all times local):11:20 a.m.Police say three women have been injured in a hit-and-run crash near Portland State University.Portland police Sgt. Chris Burley say the vehicle hit the women while they were on a sidewalk...

Hit-and-run driver strikes pedestrians in downtown Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say paramedics are tending to "multiple patients" after a hit-and-run driver struck pedestrians in downtown Portland.Portland Fire and Rescue says the crash happened Friday morning near Portland State University.Police have not said how many people have been...

Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black has been charged with welfare fraud.Nkechi Diallo, known as Rachel Dolezal before she legally changed her name in 2016, was charged this week...

The highest-paid CEOs by state

Here are the top-paid CEOs by state for 2017, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm.The survey considered only publicly traded companies with more than jumi billion in revenue that filed their proxy statements with federal regulators between Jan. 1 and April 30....

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black has been charged with welfare fraud.Nkechi Diallo, known as Rachel Dolezal before she legally changed her name in 2016, was charged this week...

Students hand back in yearbook after racial slur is pictured

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Students at a coastal Georgia high school are being asked to hand back in their yearbooks after a racial slur made for some bad memories.The Savannah-Chatham County school district tells news outlets that the publisher has recalled the Windsor Forest High School yearbook...

Column: Jack Johnson's biggest crime was being black

Jack Johnson's biggest crime was being an unrepentant black man who beat up white men for a living.High-flying and flamboyant, he refused to live by the unwritten rules of American society in the early 1900s. That made him a target, and that eventually cost him his freedom after being convicted of...

ENTERTAINMENT

Famed chef Mario Batali's Vegas Strip restaurants will close

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mario Batali's three Las Vegas Strip restaurants will shut down July 27, officials said Friday, as the celebrity chef faces sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women.Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group partner Joe Bastianich sent a letter to nearly 300 workers...

The Latest: Weinstein takes books on theater, film to arrest

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the sexual misconduct probe of film producer Harvey Weinstein (all times local):11:40 a.m.Harvey Weinstein was in and out of custody so quickly in his rape case, he probably didn't have time to read the books he brought with him.The film mogul carried three...

Weinstein faces sex charges amid #MeToo reckoning

NEW YORK (AP) — It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been waiting for: Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.His face pulled in a strained smile and his hands locked behind his back, the once-powerful Hollywood figure emerged from a police station Friday facing rape and criminal sex act...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

For CEOs, .7 million a year is just middle of the pack

NEW YORK (AP) — Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year,...

Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed...

Police: Suspected restaurant gunman had no criminal record

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The man suspected of shooting three people inside an Oklahoma City restaurant before...

Putin says US exit from Iran deal could trigger instability

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the U.S. exit from the...

Explosion at Indian restaurant in Canada wounds 15 people

TORONTO (AP) — An explosion caused by a homemade bomb ripped through an Indian restaurant where children...

Netherlands, Australia hold Russia liable for downing MH17

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A day after international prosecutors said they had unequivocal evidence of...

Marilynn Marchione AP Medical Writer

Dr. John Zaia

 

In a bold new approach ultimately aimed at trying to cure AIDS, scientists used genetic engineering in six patients to develop blood cells that are resistant to HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

It's far too early to know if this scientific first will prove to be a cure, or even a new treatment. The research was only meant to show that, so far, it seems feasible and safe.

The concept was based on the astonishing case of an AIDS patient who seems to be cured after getting blood cells from a donor with natural immunity to HIV nearly four years ago in Berlin. Researchers are seeking a more practical way to achieve similar immunity using patients' own blood cells.

The results announced Monday at a conference in Boston left experts cautiously excited.

"For the first time, people are beginning to think about a cure" as a real possibility, said Dr. John Zaia, head of the government panel that oversees gene therapy experiments. Even if the new approach doesn't get rid of HIV completely, it may repair patients' immune systems enough that they can control the virus and not need AIDS medicines - "what is called a functional cure," he said.

Carl Dieffenbach, AIDS chief at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed.

"We're hopeful that this is sufficient to give the level of immune reconstitution similar to what was seen with the patient from Germany," he said.

This is the first time researchers have permanently deleted a human gene and infused the altered cells back into patients. Other gene therapy attempts tried to add a gene or muffle the activity of one, and have not worked against HIV.

The virus can damage the immune system for years before people develop symptoms and are said to have AIDS - acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The virus targets special immune system soldiers called T-cells. It usually enters these cells through a protein receptor, or "docking station," called CCR5.

Some people (about 1 percent of whites; fewer of minorities) lack both copies of the CCR5 gene and are naturally resistant to HIV. One such person donated blood stem cells in 2007 to an American man living in Berlin who had leukemia and HIV.

The cell transplant appears to have cured both problems, but finding such donors for everyone with HIV is impossible, and transplants are medically risky.

So scientists wondered: Could a patient's own cells be used to knock out the CCR5 gene and create resistance to HIV?

A California biotechnology company, Sangamo (SANG-uh-moh) BioSciences Inc., makes a treatment that can cut DNA at precise locations and permanently "edit out" a gene.

Dr. Jacob Lalezari, director of Quest Clinical Research of San Francisco, led the first test of this with the company and colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

He warned that it would be "way overstated" to suggest that the results so far are a possible cure.

"It's an overreach of the data. There are a lot of people out there with hopes and dreams around the C-word," so caution is needed.

In the study, six men with HIV had their blood filtered to remove a small percentage of their T-cells. The gene-snipping compound was added in the lab, and about one-fourth of the cells were successfully modified. The cells were mixed with growth factors to make them multiply and then infused back into the patients.

Three men received about 2.5 billion modified cells. Three others received about 5 billion.

Three months later, five men had three times the number of modified cells expected. As much as 6 percent of their total T-cells appear to be the new type - resistant to HIV, Lalezari said.

The sixth man also had modified cells, but fewer than expected. In all six patients, the anti-HIV cells were thriving nearly a year after infusion, even in tissues that can hide HIV when it can't be detected in blood.

"The cells are engrafting - they're staying in the bloodstream, they're expanding over time," said Lalezari, who has no personal financial ties to Sangamo, the study's sponsor.

The only side effect was two days of flulike symptoms. It will take longer to determine safety, but several AIDS experts said they were encouraged so far.

"It is a huge step" and a first for the field of genetics, said John Rossi, a researcher at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., where he and Zaia plan another study to test Sangamo's approach. "The idea is if you take away cells the virus can infect, you can cure the disease."

On Wednesday, Dr. Carl June, a gene therapy expert at the University of Pennsylvania, will report partial results from a second, federally funded study of 10 people testing Sangamo's product. He treated his first patient with it in July 2009.

Many questions remain:

- People born without the CCR5 gene are generally healthy, but will deleting it have unforeseen consequences?

- Will HIV find another way into cells? Certain types of the virus can use a second protein receptor, though this is less common and usually when AIDS is advanced. Sangamo is testing a similar approach aimed at that protein, too.

- How long will the modified cells last? Will more be needed every few years?

- Could doctors just infuse Sangamo's product rather than removing cells and modifying them in the lab?

- What might this cost?

Sangamo spokeswoman Liz Wolffe said it's too early in testing to guess, but it would be "a premier-priced" therapy - in the neighborhood of Dendreon Corp.'s new prostate cancer immune therapy, Provenge - $93,000.

Yet AIDS drugs can cost $25,000 a year, so this could still be cost-effective, especially if it's a cure.

Jay Johnson, 50, who works for Action AIDS, an advocacy and service organization in Philadelphia, had the treatment there in September.

"My results are excellent," he said. "The overall goal is to not have to take medication, and then hopefully lead maybe to a cure."

Matt Sharp, 54, of suburban San Francisco, also had the treatment in September.

"I would trade anything to not have to take a handful of medications every day for the rest of my life and suffer all the consequences and side effects," he said.

"I may not live long enough to see the cure, but I always hoped for a chance."

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