A prototype drug aimed at overcoming HIV's growing resistance to
existing antiretroviral treatment will enter human trials this
month, New Scientist reports.
PA-457 is the first of a new class of pharmaceuticals called
They target the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by attacking
a conical shield called the capsid protein, which stores and
protects the genetic heart of viral particles as they bud from
infected immune cells.
Exposes the virus core
If the cone is disrupted, the virus's genetic core is exposed,
effectively crippling the pathogen and making it unable to infect
PA-457 will be tested among 48 patients with HIV whose existing
drug regimens are failing because of resistance, the British weekly
reports in next Saturday's issue.
Part of the group will receive PA-457 and the other part a
harmless look-alike call a placebo. All will continue with their
standard antiretroviral drugs.
PA-457 has already been found to be highly effective on lab-dish
cells that are infected with resistant strains of HIV.
Success in initial trials
And in a small human trial, the drug rapidly cleared most HIV
from the blood, driving down levels tenfold in a matter of hours.
That research, which is still continuing, focused on use of
PA-457 on its own. The new trial will see how the drug performs in
combination with other HIV drugs.
In both cases, much wider trials are needed to assess PA-457 for
safety and effectiveness. It will take several years before the
drug becomes generally available provided these targets are met.
PA-457 is being developed by Panacos Pharmaceuticals of
Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. – (Sapa-AFP)
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