Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New AIDS Drugs

NY Times reports the development of two new AIDS drugs. One is an integrase inhibitor. Integrase is an enzyme the virus creates which allows it to "integrate" into the DNA of a t-cell so that the t-cell, which normally protects against viruses, becomes a little HIV factory. It actually alters the DNA of the cell itself. This "integrase inhibitor" prevents the integrase from performing this function.

The other drug acts on a protein, CCR5, created by the body itself. It lies on the surface of the t-cell and the virus uses it as an entry point. The new drug blocks this protein. Since this protein is a part of the body itself (whereas integrase is created by the virus), the longterm effects are unknown. For instance, it's possible the body uses that protein elsewhere for something important. However, they've discovered that there are patients whose bodies have naturally blocked the protein and they are among the longterm survivors who haven't needed additional HIV drugs.

There is, however, another protein entry point used by about 15% of HIV viruses (which, as you might know, mutate). The fear is that by blocking CCR5, the virus will simply mutuate to the other entry point. However, this hasn't been indicated in patients whose bodies naturally inhibit CCR5.

These new drugs represent the first NEW classes of HIV medications in over 10 years.

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