An experimental drug compound is showing promise against the virus that causes AIDS

Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, Harvard Medical School and more than a dozen other institutions developed the novel drug candidate and tested it in rhesus macaques, monkeys which can carry simian HIV, a virus similar to the one that infects humans.

They found that macaques inoculated with the drug compound known as eCD4-lg did not catch the virus, even when they were repeatedly exposed to high levels of it over an 8-month period.

Results of the study were published today in the journal Nature.

In addition to protecting monkeys, the researchers say lab tests indicate the drug candidate blocks every known strain of HIV-1 and HIV-2, the two main types of the virus that infect humans.

"Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far," lead researcher Michael Farzan, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute, said in a press statement. "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."

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