AIDS Breakthrough Welcome News, Says AHFLOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 11, 2008 - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today welcomed the news of a Harvard study, published in Thursday's issue of the journal Science, identifying 237 previously-undiscovered proteins the AIDS virus exploits to enter human cells and reproduce. The findings could open up new avenues of drug development.
Currently, the most effective medications--anti-retroviral medications or ARVs--work by attacking the virus itself. Though effective at keeping the disease at bay, the AIDS virus has the ability to mutate in response to these drugs, often leading to resistance. Medications that combat HIV by attacking the proteins that the virus uses instead of the virus itself could be the ultimate outcome of this latest discovery. That could lead to the development of significantly improved, more effective AIDS drugs.
"This is fantastic work. The clinical implications will take much longer to realize, as these findings must be researched and further explored as possible HIV-treatment targets," said Homayoon Khanlou, M.D., Chief of Medicine, U.S., for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Such groundbreaking research also provides an excellent argument to move funding from AIDS vaccine trials, which have repeatedly failed, to research these promising agents."
According to The Associated Press ("HIV Hijacks Victims' Proteins," K. Freking, AP Health Reporter, January 10, 2008): "Led by geneticist Stephen Elledge of Brigham and Women's Hospital, the team used a technique called RNA interference that can disrupt a gene's ability to do its job and make a protein. One by one, they disrupted thousands of human genes in test tubes, dropped in some HIV, and watched what happened. If HIV couldn't grow well, it signaled the protein that the gene that had failed to produce must be the reason. It will take far more research to figure out the role each of these proteins plays in HIV's life cycle. But most of today's AIDS drugs work by targeting the HIV virus itself. In August, the government approved sale of the first drug that works by blocking an HIV dependency factor, a cellular doorway called CCR5. The hope is that this longer list of those factors will point toward spots where similar drugs might work."
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. In California, AHF operates the largest non-government HIV testing program, which conducts more than 15,000 HIV tests annually. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 62,000 individuals in 19 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org
Posted: January 2008