Posts tagged HIV drug cocktail
New Anti-HIV Drugs: Research in Stopping AIDS
In December of 2013, researchers at the University of Minnesota published some very striking and uniformly positive findings in the fight against HIV. They discovered several compounds that uniquely targeted HIV cells. These compounds – ribonucleoside analogs 8-azaadenosine, formycin A, 3-deazauridine, 5-fluorocytidine and 2’-C-methylcytidine – stop HIV replication by blocking DNA synthesis. This is achieved by causing the HIV cells to drop their DNA load before they are ready to and not within blood cells. The compounds also cause the HIV cells to mutate so rapidly that the cells essentially mutate themselves into extinction. The findings were a surprise to most of the anti-HIV research community, because the compounds in question were not on anyone’s radar. In fact, they seemed to have no potential for stopping HIV. Another major benefit to these compounds is the low cost of synthesizing them into new anti-HIV drugs. This is always an important factor, as it lessens the burden for the future prevention and treatment of HIV.
In fact, this is what has been occurring over the past year. The new anti-HIV drugs, which were synthesized version of these compounds, have been introduced in tangent with currently approved HIV medications. So far, the reports have been positive. Although the drugs do not fully eradicate HIV from an infected person’s system, the new drugs can be used along with lower doses of more expensive medications. With this tandem approach, the infection is kept low and extremely manageable. Having a minimal viral load results in low immune activity and prevents the virus cells from spreading throughout the body. Because of this symptoms are virtually absent. This translates into lower costs for a lifelong regimen of anti-HIV medication, both for the individual patients and for health care systems worldwide.
A recent study addressed concerns on the effect that an expectant mother’s HIV treatment may have on her unborn baby. In particular, the study focused on language development. What was the result? By age two, children who had been born to mothers treated for HIV during pregnancy showed no additional delay in learning to speak.
This was an important study to relieve the concerns of many in the medical field. It had been believed that treating pregnant women for HIV would result in the baby’s lessened brain development.
All of the children who were part of the study were exposed to HIV during the pregnancy. While some mothers received a cocktail of drugs to treat the condition; others did not. The results for language development in the resulting children were just about equal. On both sides, about 1 in 4 experienced development difficulties. This shows that it was not the medication’s fault that children born to HIV-infected were having this language problem.
While previous studies suggested that the antiretroviral drugs may cause these delays, this study has clearly debunked that previous concern. One drug in particular is still being monitored, however. While children born of mothers on this particular drug were on equal footing with their peers by age two, they were behind at age one and had to catch up. More research is necessary to discover the reason for this. The drug’s name is Atazanavir.
Almost 800 children were a part of this comprehensive study, so these findings clearly overturn those of previous smaller studies. On the other hand, now research must continue to try and explain why about 25% of children exposed to HIV in the womb end up experiencing some kind of early on language problem.