New drug blocks HIV from entering cells

wdlove

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Original poster
Oct 20, 2002
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A durable new drug that prevents HIV from entering human cells and causes almost no side effects has been developed by a team of researchers at Kumamoto University.

The new drug, code named AK602, was reported by the research team's leader, Hiroaki Mitsuya, at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Kobe on Tuesday.

The drug's main feature is that it shuts out the AIDS virus at the point when it tries to intrude into a human cell.
This is an awesome discovery. Hope that it will continue to show efficacy in larger drug trials. :eek:

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200507070204.html
 

ham_man

macrumors 68020
Jan 21, 2005
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This is fantastic news, if the drug is as good as it appears. Perhaps AIDS can be eradicated once and for all...
 

iShadow

macrumors newbie
May 17, 2005
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at least we now have a way to prevnt it. To make a cure would be extremely difficult because thousands of cells are infected therefore it would be very time coonsuming to go cell by cell.
 

badmofo9000

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Feb 14, 2005
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This may have a future for people already suffering with AIDS. I am not sure but it might be able to stop the spread of the virus from infected cells to non infected ones. If you can stop it in its tracks it may not be too late for some people. We can only pray.
 

rainman::|:|

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Feb 2, 2002
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In AIDS research, many believe the most promising "cure" is simply to prevent any new infections from occurring... it sounds pretty cold to, well, condemn the already-infected, but on the other hand, it may be our only weapon. I just hope such a vaccine wouldn't slow or hinder the search for a cure, however I expect that it would (hell, the USA would certainly stop it's $40/year AIDS research contributions)
 

ham_man

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Jan 21, 2005
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wrc fan said:
It sounds like a vaccine not a cure, so it won't help people already infected with it. :(
Actually, this is a cure, or at least a medicine to combat the virus, not a vaccine. A vaccine would require exposing the body to the virus so that the immune system can build up a defense. In fact, they tested it on people who already had the virus.
 

topicolo

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Jun 4, 2002
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This is only a step in fighting AIDS. Chances are, a single drug like this won't be enough to "cure" an HIV infected person.

HIV usually isn't detected until 2 or more months after you've been infected. At first, you'll get a fever for a couple of days that'll be almost indistinguishable from a common flu. By the time you get enough symptoms to know that something's wrong and that you need to get a diagnosis, enough HIV viruses have infiltrated your cells and copied their genetic information into your DNA to make them almost impossible to eradicate completely.

The lack of side effects for this drug is amazing and will bode well for current HIV patients if the results continue for larger clinical trials. This may become a better alternative to the current drug cocktail that current HIV sufferers have to take to manage their disease.
 

wrc fan

macrumors 65816
ham_man said:
Actually, this is a cure, or at least a medicine to combat the virus, not a vaccine. A vaccine would require exposing the body to the virus so that the immune system can build up a defense. In fact, they tested it on people who already had the virus.
OK, I know it's not a vaccine in the literal definition, but couldn't it be used to prevent someone from getting it... like say if your partner has HIV, if you get my drift?

Anyway, this is good news, and it sounds like it has the potential to vastly improve the lives of many people with the virus.
 

idea_hamster

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Jul 11, 2003
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But keep in mind that entering uninfected cells is an absolutely necessary step in any virus's life cycle. (The reason they are so small is that they are only D-/RNA with a protein case and need a host cell to reproduce.)

If this drug blocks the HIV virus from entering new cells, it alone could be a cure.

What could be a source of difficulty is the HIV virus's frequent changes of its surface proteins. I don't know whether the apparatus the virus uses to attach to and enter cells is among these changing proteins, but if it is, the drug could have only a limited period of usefulness.

However, if they've published results of even a medium-term test, it's very interesting.

But, the Hindustan Times?! I'd think that a legitimate step in the fight against HIV would be picked up more quickly by the main-stream media.
 

QCassidy352

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Mar 20, 2003
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idea_hamster said:
But, the Hindustan Times?! I'd think that a legitimate step in the fight against HIV would be picked up more quickly by the main-stream media.
Wondering about that myself. But it's certainly great to see any news of developments on this front... AIDS is rapidly becoming the biggest threat in the world today.
 

topicolo

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Jun 4, 2002
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Even though the attachment of the virus is required to complete its replication cycle, it won't be different from any of the other drugs used today except that it has almost no side effects--current drugs prevent HIV replication by preventing HIV RNA to DNA replication, among other methods.

The only way this drug could cure a person of HIV is if it was able to due 3 things:
block ALL the receptors on all of the susceptible cells in the body for the life span of the individual

That is a tall order to fill and if any of the current drugs can do all three things, then they can cure AIDS too.

HIV can remain in the DNA of host cells, completely undetected for decades and if so much as a couple of them are reactivated, they start infection process all over again.

At best, the drug can become a new chronic treatment for HIV, something like another drug to add to the current drug cocktail HIV sufferers have to regularly take for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, these people's immune systems decline with age and eventually the virus overpowers both the drugs and the immune system and causes full blown AIDS.
 

idea_hamster

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Jul 11, 2003
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topicolo said:
Even though the attachment of the virus is required to complete its replication cycle, it won't be different from any of the other drugs used today except that it has almost no side effects--current drugs prevent HIV replication by preventing HIV RNA to DNA replication, among other methods.
I think this is, in fact, different. As this NIH page details, reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors both operate to stem HIV replication after it is in the cell, whereas fusion inhibitors stop the original entry and work on the HIV virus, not the human cells (a likely reason for low side effects).

topicolo said:
The only way this drug could cure a person of HIV is if it was able to due 3 things:
block ALL the receptors on all of the susceptible cells in the body for the life span of the individual
I think that it might be necessary to block all the HIV viral bodies until they are expelled from the body and to continue taking it until all previously infected cells had released their HIV stores, but probably not for life.

topicolo said:
HIV can remain in the DNA of host cells, completely undetected for decades and if so much as a couple of them are reactivated, they start infection process all over again.
That's interesting. I had never heard of HIV's ability to lay dormant in the DNA of a cell. I always thought that once a virus entered a cell, it replicated until cell death. Although chicken pox/shingles is an example of a virus (herpes) laying dormant outside cells, on nerve endings.

If this is the case, then it may be a life-long treatment. But with small side effects, it could be a much easier life than today's complicated and uncomfortable anti-retrovirals.
 

Chip NoVaMac

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Dec 25, 2003
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wrc fan said:
It sounds like a vaccine not a cure, so it won't help people already infected with it. :(
A good first step IMO though.

But as one that was involved in the early days of AIDS (back when it was GRID), I have learned not to get my hopes up. Hopefully this news will prove me wrong though.

In the medical community there is a desire to stop the spread of a disease like AIDS first. It makes it easier perhaps to address providing a cure for those infected. We already have made strides to help those with HIV live longer, more productive lives - before the onset of AIDS - IF the proper medical treatment is sought and given early on.

This is no easy task given the global differences on social morals and the economic ability to provide the education and care - before and after the fact. And the profit motive that drives the industrialized nations that can best afford to develop the drugs and treatments are at odds with the "capitalist" notion - verses doing what is right. Should the HIV containment "cocktails" be priced lower for developing nations like those in Africa, while allowing for "industrialized" nations to pay the extra cost through healthcare insurance and social care systems?

Not wanting to take this to the Political Forums, but I want to comment as I see things. We allow of municipal bonds - for they are good for the community. Should we not allow for municipal "stocks"? Sure they would pay lower yields. But at the same point major profits would not be able to be had on the core needs of people: food, shelter, health, and basic transportation to achieve the first three?
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
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Northern Virginia
rainman::|:| said:
In AIDS research, many believe the most promising "cure" is simply to prevent any new infections from occurring... it sounds pretty cold to, well, condemn the already-infected, but on the other hand, it may be our only weapon. I just hope such a vaccine wouldn't slow or hinder the search for a cure, however I expect that it would (hell, the USA would certainly stop it's $40/year AIDS research contributions)
A vaccine is the best hope that we have at this point. This news is promising. As I said before, as so many others have too, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS is the key. Far too many are infected, even though they thought they were safe in stable, long term, monogamous relationships.

Yes, it does seem cold. But many would welcome the opportunity to save their futures (and in the end the long term future of the nation and the world - how many great minds have we lost to HIV/AIDS so far?).

We are not talking about STD's that can/might be cured by antibiotics (give our over prescription of these drugs. We are not talking of Herpes, that for most is an inconvenience. This S**T KILLS. None of the studies I have seen make a difference between an "active" (meaning engaging in risky behavior) or passive ( meaning those infected by HIV by "non-medical" means.
 

Ugg

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Apr 7, 2003
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idea_hamster said:
\If this is the case, then it may be a life-long treatment. But with small side effects, it could be a much easier life than today's complicated and uncomfortable anti-retrovirals.
Fark had a long thread on it and one, seemingly knowledgeable poster, stated that the problem with this is that the drug somehow blocks or inhibits white blood cell production. So, over time, a person's body would be unable to defend itself against common infections. Sorry, no link. Whether this is true or not I don't know but anyone expecting this to be a magic bullet might be disappointed.

There was another comment on the forum that went something like this, "all pharmaceutical drugs are toxic, with some beneficial side effects." I think this is very true and have to agree that prevention must be at the forefront of any anti disease program. To rely on drugs to save people is pretty risky.
 

QCassidy352

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Mar 20, 2003
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Ugg said:
Fark had a long thread on it and one, seemingly knowledgeable poster, stated that the problem with this is that the drug somehow blocks or inhibits white blood cell production. So, over time, a person's body would be unable to defend itself against common infections. Sorry, no link. Whether this is true or not I don't know but anyone expecting this to be a magic bullet might be disappointed.

There was another comment on the forum that went something like this, "all pharmaceutical drugs are toxic, with some beneficial side effects." I think this is very true and have to agree that prevention must be at the forefront of any anti disease program. To rely on drugs to save people is pretty risky.
If the drug prevents the creation of new white blood cells, resulting in an inability to protect onself against infection, then the end result would be much the same as actually having AIDS. Not good. :eek:

As for "all drugs being toxic..." I'm not sure where you get that. It's quite a bold claim. I do agree that prevention needs to be the primary line of defense in stopping AIDS or any other epidemic, but with the way the fight against AIDS is going right now, an effective solution at any stage of development would be very welcome.
 

topicolo

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Jun 4, 2002
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idea_hamster said:
I think this is, in fact, different. As this NIH page details, reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors both operate to stem HIV replication after it is in the cell, whereas fusion inhibitors stop the original entry and work on the HIV virus, not the human cells (a likely reason for low side effects).
Either way, all of the currently available drugs reduce the efficacy of HIV by disrupting its life cycle. Whether it is to inhibit its entry into cells, inhibit its conversion of its RNA to DNA, or inhibit its ability to produce its protein coat, the end result is the same--the viral product is not able to penetrate into healthy cells.

idea_hamster said:
I think that it might be necessary to block all the HIV viral bodies until they are expelled from the body and to continue taking it until all previously infected cells had released their HIV stores, but probably not for life.
As I've said before, this could take decades, if not the life span of the individual. The most common diagnosis of HIV happens about a decade after actual infection because it goes unnoticed. The only symptom you'll have during that period is a slightly weaker immune system, easier bruising, and some other problems. It's because of this long, hard-to-notice incubation time that makes it so easy to pass the disease on to others.

idea_hamster said:
That's interesting. I had never heard of HIV's ability to lay dormant in the DNA of a cell. I always thought that once a virus entered a cell, it replicated until cell death. Although chicken pox/shingles is an example of a virus (herpes) laying dormant outside cells, on nerve endings.

If this is the case, then it may be a life-long treatment. But with small side effects, it could be a much easier life than today's complicated and uncomfortable anti-retrovirals.
Trust me. HIV is a lysogenic virus. The majority of all viruses are lysogenic viruses because this is the safest method of replication. If you copy your genetic info into a host cell's genome, you won't need to do any replication yourself because you can let the host cell do all the work for you. Then, due to some stimulation (such as a compromised immune system), the virus can again start replicating.

The main reason HIV has reverse transcriptase (for those reverse transcriptase inhibitors you pointed out) is to make sure the virus's RNA can be converted to DNA so that it can be inserted into the host cell. This is similar to what the herpes virus (the STD and the cold sore version) does too.

Here's something I found that might help you understand the difference between what you thought all viruses did (lytic cycles) and what most of them actually do (the lysogenic cycle) Lytic and Lysogenic viruses on Encarta
 

topicolo

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Jun 4, 2002
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Ottawa, ON
QCassidy352 said:
As for "all drugs being toxic..." I'm not sure where you get that. It's quite a bold claim. I do agree that prevention needs to be the primary line of defense in stopping AIDS or any other epidemic, but with the way the fight against AIDS is going right now, an effective solution at any stage of development would be very welcome.
Hell, EVERYTHING is toxic--it just matters how much you take of them. Even if you drink orange juice continuously for days you'll get a condition called acidosis.