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possible cure for HIV soon - Ceragenins?
Mar 14, 2006

I came across with this article: Researchers, including a BYU scientist, believe they have found a new compound that could finally kill the HIV/AIDS virus, not just slow it down as current treatments do. And, unlike the expensive, drug cocktails 25 years of research have produced for those with the deadly virus, the compound invented by Paul D. Savage of Brigham Young University appears to hunt down and kill HIV. Although so far limited to early test tube studies, CSA-54, one of a family of compounds called Ceragenins (or CSAs), mimics the disease-fighting characteristics of anti-microbial and anti-viral agents produced naturally by a healthy human immune system. Under a study sponsored by Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, Savage and his colleagues developed and synthesized the compound for Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine. In his Nashville, Tenn., laboratories, Derya Unutmaz, an associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology, tested several CSAs for their ability to kill HIV. While issuing a cautious caveat about his early results, Unutmaz acknowledged Monday that CSAs could be the breakthrough HIV/AIDS researchers have sought for so long. "We received these agents [from BYU] in early October and our initial results began to culminate by November 2005. We have since reproduced all our results many times," he said. "We have some preliminary but very exciting results [but] we would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype." What studies to date show is a compound that attacks HIV at its molecular membrane level, disrupting the virus from interacting with their primary targets, the "T-helper" class white blood cells that comprise and direct the human immune system. Further, CSAs appear to be deadly to all known strains of HIV. That would be a welcome development for the estimated 40.3 million people now living with HIV/AIDS globally, including nearly 5 million newly infected in the past year alone. "We have devoted considerable resources to understand the mechanism of these compounds. We think this knowledge will enable us in collaboration with Dr. Savage to design even better compounds," Unutmaz said. In addition to being a potential checkmate to HIV, the compounds show indications of being just as effective against other diseases plaguing humankind - among them influenza, possibly even the dread bird flu, along with smallpox and herpes. Savage said he and his BYU research team had been studying CSAs for eight years, noting the compounds' value against microbial and bacteria infections. It was only a year ago they saw that CSAs killed viruses, too. "They kill viruses very effectively and in a way paralleling our own, natural defenses," Savage said, noting that beyond the obvious use as a weapon against the AIDS pandemic, CSAs could help many others with non-HIV immune deficiencies. Further, the compounds appear to have few limits on how they are delivered to patients. Although early indications are for application

Response from Dr. Pierone

No, unfortunately a BYU professor did not find the AIDS cure. Rather a chemical compound with some preliminary in vitro antiretroviral activity was identified. This is a prime example of local press hype (probably not much happening in Salt Lake City that week) of a very early stage agent that may or may not hold promise for treatment of HIV. Stay tuned for future developments though, it takes years of focused energy to determine if a new lead will translate into a useful approach. Thanks for posting.


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