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September 7, 2016

Study shows green tea hand sanitizer effective against viruses

By Millie Huff, Augusta University
A green tea hand sanitizer created by an Augusta University researcher is proving to be highly effective in killing viruses. Dr. Stephen Hsu, a professor in the Department of Oral Biology at The Dental College of Georgia, introduced ProtecTeaV EGCG Sanitizer in 2015, one of several green tea products he’s taken from laboratory to marketplace, providing evidence-based treatments for ailments including dry mouth, cold sores, and now viruses.

Alcohol-based instant sanitizers – used routinely in health care settings, schools, and other public places to help prevent microbial infections – have gained popularity in recent years because they’re portable, ease-to-use and effective against actively growing bacteria, as well as some viruses. However, most hand sanitizers on the market are ineffective in combatting non-enveloped viruses, according to Hsu.
A non-enveloped virus is generally more stable than an enveloped virus and can survive in its environment much longer, making it more contagious. For example, the non-enveloped norovirus is responsible for about 20 million acute gastroenteritis cases each year in the U.S. and is the virus often to blame for rampant sicknesses on cruise ships. Many viruses can be deadly as well, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes 27,000 cancer cases each year in the U.S. – that’s one new case every 20 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Investigators at Augusta University and State Key Laboratory of Virology in China, led by Hsu, evaluated the effectiveness of the alcohol-based ProtecTeaV EGCG sanitizer formula, against more commonly used hand sanitizers to see how each stood up against the non-enveloped human poliovirus – one of the most difficult viruses to kill.

How a substance stands up to the poliovirus is essentially the “gold standard” for how effective an anti-viral product is, according to Hsu, whose study demonstrates that ProtecTeaV EGCG sanitizer is 100 times more effective in reducing the infectivity of poliovirus-1 than what’s mandated in the internationally established standards. The results were published July 23 in theJournal of Antivirals, Antiretrovirals Research and Therapy.

“The impact of this product will mean fewer transmissions of viruses and outbreaks, fewer food borne illnesses, and less chance of getting sick from public facilities or on a cruise ship,” said Dr. Hsu. “ProtecTeaV sanitizer could reduce the number of sicknesses spreading through a classroom, and as a result, people may stay healthier and lives may be saved.”

Hsu said the study shows that ProtecTeaV EGCG hand sanitizer formula, containing the green tea extract EGCG, possesses an effective anti-viral capability that could also be studied for potential use in novel disinfectant and antiseptic approaches to better protect the public from pathogenic viruses.

Current strategies to prevent microorganisms, including viruses from entering the body are focused mainly on surface protection, which is performed by washing hands with soap and water, surface disinfectants, and hand sanitizers, particularly alcohol-based sanitizers.
“But concerns about effectiveness, the toxicity of certain ingredients of disinfectants, pollution, and quick evaporation of the alcohol in hand sanitizers, limit the effectiveness of many products,” Hsu said.

Furthermore, alcohol-based cleansers can strip away moisture in the hands, according to Hsu, but because the ProtecTeaV formula contains antioxidants, it has the added benefit of dry skin protection.

The Dental College of Georgia is already using the product in patient clinics.

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August 23, 2016

Tug of war over HIV's disease-inducing potential

By Quinn Eastman,Emory University
A new study from Emory AIDS researchers shows how the expected disease severity when someone is newly infected by HIV reflects a balance between the virus' invisibility to the host's immune system and its ability to reproduce.

Examining HIV transmission events occurring in 169 heterosexual couples in Zambia, the researchers found that almost a third of potential immune target sites in the virus that established infection were "pre-adapted" to the immune response in the newly-infected partner.
That means that HIV had already evolved to evade immune scrutiny in the newly-infected person. The researchers' findings suggest that designers of vaccines against HIV should focus on regions of conserved viral proteins that do not become adapted in the same way.

The study, published Monday in Journal of Experimental Medicine, was led by Eric Hunter, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, Emory Vaccine Center and Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Hunter is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. The first author is postdoctoral fellow Daniela C. Mónaco, PhD.

This analysis builds upon previous research by Hunter and colleagues on the transmission event and is consistent with work developed in parallel where viral adaptation was defined using a computer model. For constantly mutating HIV, there is a tug-of-war between pressure from the host's immune system and changes that impair the virus' ability to replicate, Hunter says. Both of these factors influence the level of virus found in blood and how quickly it can induce CD4 T cell loss and progression to AIDS in the newly-infected person.

The human genes that direct the immune response to HIV encode HLA proteins, which vary from person to person. The HLA proteins hold chewed-up pieces of viral proteins so that CD8+ T cells (so-called "cytotoxic" cells) can detect and kill infected cells. In response, the virus mutates so that the bits of viral proteins don't trigger immune alarms.

"There's a critical balance between viral polymorphisms that reduce immune recognition and others that negatively influence replicative fitness," Monaco says. "By taking both into account, we could better estimate the overall impact on viral load and disease progression."
The study was made possible by the Zambia-Emory HIV Research Project, led by co-author Susan Allen, MD, MPH. The Project's HIV prevention programs enroll heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner. These programs provide counseling and condoms, but HIV transmission still occurs despite a two-thirds reduction in infection rate.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (R0AI64060, R37AI51231, P30AI050409), the NIH's Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (Primate centers, P51OD011132), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Action Cycling.

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August 17, 2016

For the Second Consecutive Year AKESOgen makes Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies--the Inc.50

 Inc. magazine today ranked AKESOgen, 23rd as a Healthcare company and 240th overall on its 35th annual Inc. 500, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy's most dynamic segment— its independent small businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino's Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 500|5000.

"Once again, we are delighted to be recognized for the second consecutive year as an Inc.500 honoree with such well-known organizations in 2016 as Square, Dollar Shave Club, ipsy and Yeti Cooler." commented AKESOgen CEO Robert Boisjoli.

"We are fortunate to be in a business which is at the forefront of providing the latest molecular technologies for 21st century personalized medicine. The knowledge and impact of DNA and our own genetic makeup is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives and will only continue to increase. AKESOgen is providing new cutting edge genomic tools and services to enable this emerging approach to science." says Mark Bouzyk, PhD, AKESOgen's Chief Scientific Officer.

The 2016 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at Inc.com and with the top 500 companies featured in the September issue of Inc. (available on newsstands August 23) is the most competitive crop in the list's history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year growth of 433%. The Inc. 5000's aggregate revenue is $200 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 640,000 jobs over the past three years, or about 8% of all jobs created in the entire economy during that period. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

"The Inc. 5000 list stands out where it really counts," says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. "It honors real achievement by a founder or a team of them. No one makes the Inc. 5000 without building something great – usually from scratch. That's one of the hardest things to do in business, as every company founder knows. But without it, free enterprise fails."

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