Research on infectious diseases

September 1, 2006

Infectious diseases have been front and centre in some of the biggest news stories of the year, from the World AIDS conference in Toronto, to bird flu in Asia, to antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in increasing numbers all around the world.

Right here at the OHRI, clinical researchers are fighting all of these threats, and often gaining international recognition for their efforts. For example, the following important results were presented by OHRI researchers at the World AIDS conference:
  • Some people can safely control HIV with only one drug, instead of the three drugs that are normally used (Dr. Bill Cameron - see abstract).

  • Chronic infections can be better managed if psychological care is integrated into the standard treatment regimen (Dr. Louise Balfour - see presentation details).

  • Some HIV patients undergoing treatment may see significant improvement in their immune function that is not reflected in standard laboratory tests (Dr. Jonathan Angel - see abstract).

  • HIV sends out molecular signals to disable certain cells in the immune system (Dr. Paul MacPherson - see abstract).

In addition, Dr. Curtis Cooper was a co-author on a JAMA-published study that received high praise from international leaders such as former US President Bill Clinton. The study revealed that HIV patients in the developing world take medications just as well as those in North America (see abstract).

While HIV is a large focus of the OHRI infectious disease research group, work is also being done on viral hepatitis, bacterial infections, malaria, and emerging viruses such avian flu. Research Ethics Board Chair Dr. Raphael Saginur is leading a national effort to develop guidelines to facilitate approval of clinical research studies during a pandemic.

“We have a really unique group of clinical researchers here,” said Dr. Gary Garber, head of the hospital’s infectious disease division. “By studying infectious diseases from all angles, we are improving care here in Ottawa, and having an impact around the world.”

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