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The Latest News

March 2004

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Every year scientists studying HIV come together at a national conference and look at the results of their experiments. Search For A Cure attended this conference last month. Below are some highlights.

New Drugs

Two kinds of drugs were talked about at the conference -- those coming soon and those in the very early stages of development.

Drugs Coming Soon


Tibotec is a company focusing on developing new versions of old drugs that work when the others have stopped.

Tibotec's protease inhibitor (PI) seems able to salvage regimens that are highly resistant to other PIs. So far, the data from studies using the drug in people who have resistant virus look pretty impressive.

If you need a new PI, join a study with this drug. Check with


This second Tibotec drug is a second generation NNRTI that combines durability with power and works when older NNRTIs stop.

It is a very promising drug being tested in the U.S., Canada and Europe.


This is a once-a-day antiviral produced by Pharmasset, Inc., in Tucker, GA.

It is an NRTI -- like AZT, ddI and 3TC -- and it is very important because these kinds of drugs have already failed many people. Yet they are a critical component in most HIV cocktails.

Reverset was tested in 30 HIV-positive people who had never used an antiviral drug before. This resulted in significant drops in the amount of virus that they had.

Reverset is as powerful as abacavir, 3TC, FTC and tenofovir when used in people who have never used an HIV antiviral. New studies are looking at how the drug performs in people who have used lots of HIV medicines already.


This is a new type of drug from Schering called an entry inhibitor because it stops HIV from getting inside a cell. HIV cannot reproduce unless it gets inside a T cell, hijacks the cell's operating machinery and uses it to make more virus.

To get into a cell, one type of HIV uses a part of the T cell called the CCR5 co-receptor. Another type of HIV uses another part of the T cell called the CXCR4 co-receptor. Since this new drug is a CCR5 inhibitor, it doesn't work against the type of virus that uses CXCR4.

The drug was tested in 48 volunteers and showed its power to reduce virus in people with CCR5-using virus by 90-95%.

In order to make sure this drug will work, a person would have to have their virus tested to see if there is any CXCR4-using virus present.


This new drug is another type of entry inhibitor from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

It is like SCH D because it stops HIV from getting into a cell.

The trial showed 1,800 mg of this drug reduced the amount of virus in volunteers by 90%.

It did not matter if a volunteer had used ARVs before or not. This is very good news, as it shows this new class, as expected, is not cross resistant to any of the older classes.

Drugs Which Are in Early Development, But Which Look Promising

SPD 754

In a study sponsored by Shire Pharmaceuticals, this new NRTI, called SPD 754 (deoxycitidine), looks promising.

In a study of 64 people, this drug caused a 97% drop in virus. This is excellent.

Unfortunately, this drug might not work against virus resistant to Viread. It seems, however, to work against all other resistant viruses.


This drug is part of the HIV drug-resistance project of the National Cancer Institute. It is partially publicly funded.

This is a new type of drug altogether, stopping HIV from completing its reproduction. It is a maturation inhibitor.

This means the drug will work against virus resistant to everything else we have today.

It is too early in development to comment more, but the drug needs to be watched.


This drug fights virus that uses the CXCR4 co-receptor. It is in early studies. It is important to watch because drugs like it are very important. Used together with drugs that stop virus that use the CCR5 co-receptor, like SCH-D, the combination might stop both types of virus.


This entry inhibitor has been tested in 22 volunteers who have HIV for 14 days and has reduced viral load from 70 to 95%.

This drug can be administered once a week.

It is being developed by a small company called Tanox.

Other Drugs Being Built

Glaxo is well down the road to the creation of a powerful NNRTI. Its temporary name is GW678248.

A small company, Regeneron, is trying out a new idea -- an immune based therapy that seems to help the body fight HIV and is showing some results.

Gilead is trying out a new concept that looks interesting. It has shown a special kind of drug kills cells which are infected with HIV. This might be a very successful way to fight the virus. It's a long way from getting into people, but it is on the way.

Other Approaches

For years, people have looked for other ways to help fight HIV in addition to antiviral medicines. One study, funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, has shown supplements might be able to help.

A well-known doctor, who specializes in how to use supplements to help people with HIV, tested a mixture of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals on volunteers with HIV.

The results show this mixture raises T cells and seems to reduce the amount of virus.

A lot more study is necessary before scientists can be sure this approach is of any use.

To find out more, you can check out Integrative Health Consulting, Inc., at


The good news is that many new, improved medicines are being developed, and some of them should be in the drugstores within two years.

The bad news is that most of the world does not have access to them.

United Nations Ambassador Stephen Lewis explained that rich countries needed to do something quickly. He said 26 million people have died from AIDS in countries that cannot afford the medicines that we have. These parents have left over 13 million orphans that the poor countries cannot afford to take care of. Columbia University economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs estimates it would take the price of one movie ticket and one box of popcorn from each family in the rich countries to pay for all of the medicines and medical care needed for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

The good news is the federal government has committed 15 billion dollars towards this effort. The bad news is Bush has released virtually none of it.

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

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This article was provided by Search for a Cure. It is a part of the publication Reasons for Hope.
See Also
More on HIV Medications
HIV Drugs in Development