A Drug That Would Slow HIV Entry Into Cells

Drug HIV, an international team of researchers has designed a new drug that could effectively block the entry of the HIV virus into cells to be infected, and which is based on a small protein that the body itself produces.

The description of this drug in an article published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in which researchers, including a team of Spanish scientists warn that the treatment is still expensive and laborious.

Guillermo Gimenez, Biological Research Center (National Research Council of Spain), said today that the new treatment was tested successfully in 18 patients infected with HIV in clinical trials in phase I and II.

In these tests the toxicity of the compound and its efficacy, while in the testing stages III and IV examines what the best dose and compared with other drugs.

According to this researcher, this drug also causes few side effects in humans.

Gimenez explained that the treatment, which they have been working for five years, is based on the derivative of a small protein that the body itself produces, probably to defend against other viruses that carried to the body.

Having identified in the blood of that protein (called VIRIP and discovered in 2007), scientists found that prevented HIV injects its own genetic content through the cell membrane.

However, verified that the protein alone, did not serve as a drug because of its inefficiency.

To resolve this problem, experts summarized in the test tube about 600 variants of VIRIP until they found one, called VIR-576, with an efficacy similar to that achieved by other AIDS drugs with few side effects.

“What we did was increase the potency of a molecule that we all have to defend the body against certain viral and, in its natural form, is not sufficiently active to protection against HIV infection,” same Gimenez, team organizer Spanish WHO participated during this learning exactly analyzing the structure of this compound.

To enter and infect these cells, HIV needs to enter the membrane through the end of one of its proteins, called gp41.

What makes the protein VIR-576 is to adhere to the end of gp41, preventing it from contacting the cell membrane.

To infect, the virus has to drive a kind of harpoon into the cell and what this drug is to wrap the tip of the spear, thus preventing penetrate and infect the cell.

To test this, 18 patients were treated ten days with three different doses of VIR-576 per day.Patients with the highest dose were reduced virus levels in the blood, the drug was well tolerated and only suffered mild side effects, only some cases of skin allergy, constipation or headache.

At present, as highlighted by Giménez, most HIV patients are treated with a combination of three antiretroviral drugs, and these, to act, enter the cell.

When this happens, the side effects are greater, hence the importance of this study, since the new drug does not need to enter the cell.

In addition to the antiretroviral drugs on the market two other drugs that act in a similar procedure for cell penetration, Maraviroc, effective in early lineage viruses and the T-20, the AIDS virus can easily escape as the scientist.

However, he stressed that the new treatment is expensive yet, manufacturing is labor-intensive and must be administered intravenously.

Therefore, the team is now working on finding a small molecule that mimics the functioning of VIR-576 and is administered orally