Dr. E. Richard Stiehm, a professor of pediatrics at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, researched examples throughout medical history of ways that one disease prevents another.
His findings suggest that genetic, infectious and metabolic influences should be considered when looking for treatments, particularly in regard to HIV/AIDS.
"Clinical observations of disease-versus-disease interactions have led to an understanding of the mechanisms of several diseases," Stiehm said. "In turn, these observations have led to the development of vaccines, therapeutic antibodies, medications and special diets."
Detailed in the January 2006 issue of Pediatrics, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Stiehm's research illustrated 12 disease pairs, reviewed their therapeutic implications and suggested additional applications.
A few of the pairings that Stiehm described include:
Overall, Stiehm proposed that new evidence can be found for using certain viruses to treat diseases such as HIV, which do not respond to other medications.
"There have been several studies indicating that HIV patients co-infected with a virus related to Hepatitis C, called GB virus C, have less severe HIV disease and improved survival," Stiehm said.
Stiehm got the idea for his historical review from cases he saw while a pediatric resident at Babies Hospital in New York City. One case was a kidney disease patient with nephrosis who was unresponsive to medications but went into remission after contracting measles. The other, a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient who needed to be admitted to the hospital, but there were no rooms available. Stiehm's supervisor, a CF specialist, told him, "put him in the room with the tuberculosis patient -- CF patients never get tuberculosis." Subsequent studies have confirmed this observation.
Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA is a 120-bed "hospital within a hospital" located at UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. The hospital offers a full spectrum of primary and specialized medical care for infants, children and adolescents. The mission of Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA is to provide state-of-the-art treatment for children in a compassionate atmosphere, as well as to improve the understanding and treatment of pediatric diseases. For more information, visit http://www.mattel.ucla.edu/.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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