Human HIV drug trial near
CD4 T-cells are one measurement of the body’s immune system. Another cell that fights infections are called Natural Killer Cells (NK). These are a kind of white blood cell that play a major role in the rejection of tumors and cells infected with viruses.
But they don’t seem to attack cells infected with HIV and that has puzzled scientists for more than two decades. This article explains how HIV produces a protein called Vpu which basically neutralizes the NK cells preventing them from attacking the infected cells.
This new drug, BIT225, targets the Vpu protein of HIV which would then allow the NK cells to do their job. Which means this would be a new class of drugs in the fight against HIV.
“An Australian biomedical research company, Biotron Ltd, already has a drug that specifically targets the Vpu protein of HIV.
The discovery has excited Australian biomedical research company Biotron Ltd which has a drug that specifically targets the Vpu protein of HIV.
The drug has passed through early safety trials, and the company hopes to implement an efficacy trial with HIV-positive patients in the near future.
“This study is really important for Biotron,” said Biotron CEO Dr Michelle Miller.
“We have been working on developing drugs to target the Vpu protein of HIV for several years and, until recently, there has been very little known about exactly how Vpu works, despite good evidence that it is critical to the process of establishing HIV infections in specific cell types.”
From their company web site:
Based on the company info for Biotron, they have an efficacy trial in the works. Looks like there should be a definitive answer in about two years, to how well the treatment might work in humans.
This is a snip from their investor PDF. Looks like their avenue of research is at least promising (not just another ARV). Given the Rush Univ publication, I would think funding will now not be a problem. Because recent studies have shown that if you are adherent to your meds, the chance of resistance is extremely low, investors no longer see new HIV drugs worth the $$$. That’s why this recent news is so important. Otherwise this trial may have come up empty looking for scarce public funding.
• First-in-class new anti-HIV drug
• New mode of action – inhibits budding of virus from infected cells
• Targets HIV in viral reservoirs in vivo
• Reservoirs are last of the holy grail in HIV
• No existing drugs target this source of HIV in the body
• Eradication of reservoirs is essential for “cure” of HIV
• Phase Ib/IIa trial protocols finalised
• 12 – 20 subject trial in HIV+ patients
•Trial designed to demonstrate proof-of-concept i.e. can reduce HIV
loads in HIV-infected reservoir cells in man
• Expected to commence once funding in place
Additional links on related information:
News releases on the drug:
New class of drug in offering
International study supports Biotron’s HIV drug approach
Biotron Presentation to Investors explaining drug’s importance
We will talk about this drug in the second half of the 12-15-2010 Wednesday group meeting.
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