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Infectious disease research is constantly evolving

June 02, 2019
pvlsi researcher

Infectious diseases, like flu or HIV, can be very tricky. As soon as a medication is developed for one, another can pop up demanding further research. In the past few years, many infections have been discovered or affected new populations. West Nile virus, SARS, bird flu, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Zika virus, and Chikungunya fever are only a few of these.

Since new types of infections are always on the rise, doctors must constantly stay up to date and use clinical trials to test new medicines and treatment options. Baystate Health is home to several clinical trials which are aimed toward treating HIV and other infectious diseases. The Clinical Trials Office at Baystate helps promote and deliver the latest therapies to our patients, including those with infectious diseases.

The Largest Ever Study Involving People with HIV

One trial in progress, the REPRIEVE trial, has recruited 7,500 participants from over 100 sites across the globe. Thirty of these participants are enrolled here at Baystate. REPRIEVE is the largest study ever involving people infected with HIV. Researchers are studying whether the use of certain types of medication will prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with HIV. The study is important since people living with HIV are 50-100% more likely to develop heart disease than people without HIV.

Other ongoing trials study drug combinations to treat HIV (GEMINI and Gilead-1489 trials), as well as seeking to improve outcomes for HIV-infected individuals who are not currently in care (CoRECT trial).

Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Flu

Another ongoing study, the Respiratory Virus Hospitalization Study, aims to better understand influenza (flu) and find ways to prevent and treat it. The study includes adults who are in the hospital with flu and other flu-like illness. Since it began eight years ago, Baystate has enrolled over 130 people. Participants must be 18 years or older and have been admitted to the hospital for influenza or a targeted non-influenza viral respiratory infection. They are asked by staff if they’d like to participate during their hospital stay.

Bringing New Treatments to Patients

“It’s exciting and gratifying to be able to play a role in bringing new treatments to our patients,” says Dr. Daniel Skiest, director of infectious disease clinical research and the adult HIV/AIDS program at Baystate Health, and vice chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Medicine at UMass Medical School-Baystate.

Dr. Skiest joined Baystate in 2005 and started the Infectious Disease trials unit shortly after. To date, he and his team have enrolled over 300 people in clinical studies at Baystate.

If you or someone you know has questions or would like more information about these and other clinical trials, call (413) 794-4356 or search our list of clinical trials.