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New Class of AIDS Drugs on the Horizon

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Robinson tells WebMD that the new paper confirms that integrase is an exciting target for AIDS therapies because it offers a new type of drug to use in combination with existing drugs. Indeed, studies in his laboratory show that the effect with the other two types of AIDS drugs has "at least additive" anti-HIV effect.

"Integrase is a viable target for drug therapy, and we are likely to see integrase inhibitors in clinical trials in the next few years," Robinson says.

Hirsch acknowledges that the current crop of integrase inhibitors is useful only as a guide to the creation of new compound suitable for human consumption. "We are a long way from a drug or a drug candidate," he says. "These compounds are not going into animal testing; they lack the necessary characteristics of a drug candidate. We are searching for a better lead compound."

Nevertheless, the work is bound to catch the attention of the drug industry. "I'm sure that this will stimulate other pharmaceutical companies to search for new compounds," Chow says. "I think that this will renew interest in targeting integrase."

Vital Information:

  • Scientists have identified the second member of a group of compounds called integrase inhibitors, which could one day be used to treat HIV.
  • Integrase inhibitors work by preventing HIV from snipping open human DNA and inserting its own genetic code.
  • In laboratory studies, this class of compounds even works against viruses that are resistant to other drugs, although clinical application is still a long way off.
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