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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Beefing Up AIDS Patients
3 December 1996 8:00 pm
Daily injections of human growth hormone (HGH) appear to counteract the devastating and sometimes deadly effects of weight loss and atrophy often seen in AIDS patients, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. But other reports in the same issue suggest that the therapy's effectiveness is far from proven.
In a multicenter trial led by Morris Schambelan of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), 90 AIDS patients placed on a daily HGH regimen gained back on average 3 kilograms of muscle, while those given a placebo did not gain back any. The hormone strengthened the patients, who performed better on treadmill tests after the 3-month trial. For AIDS patients on appetite stimulants, commonly prescribed by physicians, fat accounts for much of the weight gain. "What this therapy has done is show that there is a clear-cut possibility of ameliorating the lean-tissue depletion," Schambelan says.
But a second study in the same issue suggests that large doses may be required to achieve clear-cut benefits. Researchers at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine gave 15 AIDS patients smaller doses of HGH and saw only slight weight increases. The authors concluded that they could not recommend "sustained therapy" with small amounts of the hormone.
Schambelan says the results are "not that different," pointing to the smaller number of patients in the New Mexico study and the fact that patients in the UCSF study received on average six times as much HGH. However, in an editorial in the same issue, Christos Mantzoros and Alan Moses of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center argue that the "jury is still out" on the costly HGH treatment. The studies, they conclude, only provide "strong impetus for additional research."