Friday, March 20, 2015

New HIV Drug in development at Emory University

Antiretroviral therapies against cell receptors and key enzymatic functions of HIV-1 and HIV-2 have been synthesized since the early 1990's. These compounds, originally used as monotherapies, were somewhat ineffective due to the rapid mutation rate of HIV and the quick resistance towards the ART drugs used. As a response, cocktails of drugs, multi drug therapies were started, and greatly improved the prognosis of a patient once they had confirmed HIV infection.

Today we have quite a few different antiretroviral compounds, but they are incredibly specific in the viral functions that they inhibit. For instance, we have drugs that each individually target HIV protease, integrase, CCR5, and reverse transcriptase.  This monotherapeutic function of HIV drugs may be changing soon. A researcher at Emory University, Dr. Dennis Liotta, has found a compound that effectively inhibits CCR5, CXCR4, and Reverse Transcriptase activity. Liotta worked with Bristol Meyers Squib in order to produce this compound, which is apparently cheap to synthesize.

Although it is early in the process, a drug like this could be a great addition to the arsenal of compounds used to treat HIV. Given the cost effective synthesis of the compound, it could be incredibly useful in low income countries. Dr. Liotta is calling this potential finding a single drug "cocktail." We will have to keep tabs on the development of this drug in the next few years.

- Marcus Munoz

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