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Daily Peptide T Nasal Spray May Be Successful in Fighting Latent HIV-Infected Cells, Study Says

September 30, 2003

A nasal spray of a synthetic protein fragment called Peptide T may be successful in lowering the amount of latent HIV-infected cells, according to preliminary results of a small human pilot study published in the current issue of the journal Peptides, the Wall Street Journal reports. Latently infected cells contain a "reservoir" of HIV that fuels the disease but cannot be reached with antiretroviral drugs, according to the Journal. "Flushing out" HIV in such cells so that the virus can be attacked by antiretroviral drugs has been an "elusive" goal of AIDS researchers, according to the Journal (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 9/29). Michael Ruff of Georgetown University School of Medicine and colleagues administered the Peptide T nasal spray to 11 patients who had been HIV-positive for an average of 17 years but who had not yet developed AIDS (Polianova et al., Peptides, July 2003). Although there was no change in the patients' viral levels, after up to 32 weeks on the spray, the level of HIV in monocytes -- a type of white blood cell -- was significantly reduced. Frank Ruscetti, a co-author of the study from the National Cancer Institute, said that placebo-controlled trials should now be conducted to determine whether the nasal spray will work in a larger and more representative cross section of HIV-positive people (Wall Street Journal, 9/29).

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