Experimental Drug Blocks HIV/SIV Transmission in Monkeys, Study Says; Could Lead to HIV-Blocking Microbicide for Humans
October 15, 2004
An experimental drug has blocked the transmission of an HIV/SIV hybrid in monkeys and may be used in the development of an HIV-blocking microbicide in humans, according to a study published in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Science, Reuters reports (Fox, Reuters, 10/14). HIV most commonly enters the body through receptor molecules called CCR5. Previous studies have shown that people who lack CCR5 because of genetic mutations "hardly ever" contract HIV, according to the AP/Las Vegas Sun. The body also contains another molecule called RANTES that is able to block HIV transmission by attaching itself to CCR5 before HIV does. For the study, Dr. Michael Lederman of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and colleagues created a drug version of RANTES "thousands of times more potent" at blocking CCR5 from HIV than naturally occurring RANTES, the AP/Sun reports. The researchers then gave 30 female rhesus macaque monkeys a hormone that made them more vulnerable to HIV infection and applied the drug -- called PSC-RANTES -- inside their vaginas. The researchers 15 minutes later inserted into the monkey's vaginas high doses of a solution containing SHIV -- a hybrid of HIV and SIV, the simian version of HIV (Neergaard, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/14).
According to Dr. Zeda Rosenberg of the International Partnership for Microbicides, it is "crucial to develop multiple methods" to prevent sexually transmitted HIV, the AP/Sun reports. "Having a drug that specifically blocks HIV's receptors is a really important piece," she said (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/14). Jo Robinson of the Terrence Higgins Trust said, "We urgently need new agents to be moved swiftly up the research process in order to ensure that products which are effective and safe to use in humans are made available as soon as possible. A microbicide could prevents millions of HIV infections over a short period of time if we are able to deliver it to those who need it most" (BBC News, 10/14).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.