Washington (ISJ) - People suffering from AIDS can look forward to a wonder drug which has proved to be very effective. Scientists from the Florida-based The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major breakthrough by inventing a drug which is a perfect foil to the virus that causes AIDS. They have claimed that the new drug might work as part of an unconventional vaccine.
The research, which involved scientists from more than a dozen research institutions, will be published in the prestigious journal Nature soon.
The study shows that the new drug blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans. It also protects against much-higher doses of virus that occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.
"Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far," said Michael Farzan, who led the research team.
"Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralize a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative," he added.
When HIV infects a cell, it targets the body's immune system.
The new study is follow-up of discoveries made by the Farzan laboratory. It discovered that a co-receptor called CCR5 contains unusual modifications in its critical HIV-binding region, and that proteins based on this region can be used to prevent infection.
Based on this finding, Farzan and his team developed the new drug which helped prevent entry of HIV into the host cell.
"This is the culmination of more than a decade's worth of work on the biochemistry of how HIV enters cells," Farzan said. "When we did our original work on CCR5, people thought it was interesting, but no one saw the therapeutic potential. That potential is starting to be realized."
Source: TSRI release
Image courtesy: TSRI