Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New pathways for curing HIV

Current HIV coctail drugs target the HIV virus with potent protease inhibitors and nucleoside analogs. The anti-HIV drugs attack the virus and without completely eliminating the virus from the human organism, the drugs bring the virus to undetectable levels in the patient's blood. The addition of drugs that stimulate the patient's immune system in order to respond and kill the virus from within the immune cells where it is still lurking, may lead to a complete therapy for HIV infection.
New pathways for curing HIV
Anti-HIV drugs have been successful to an unexpected degree, in treating patients infected with the deadly HIV virus. The drugs, cocktails of many different drugs, are very potent being basically protease inhibitors and nucleoside analogs. The coctail drugs knock the virus to undetectable levels but do not completely eliminate it. Therefore, the current treatment does not offer a cure for the disease and the patient needs to take the drugs for the rest of his life.

The HIV-virus finds shelter within the cells of the immune system, where the anti-viral coctail drugs cannot detect and eliminate it. These reservoirs where the virus remains could be attacked by the immune system itself, if its function, vastly deteriorated by the presence of the virus, could be improved. As the current research shows a specific protein kinase, the Protein Kinase A type I (PKAI) inhibits vital functions of the immune system and causes proliferation of the vital T cells of the white blood cells that are mainly responsible for our organism's defence. It is the destruction of the T lymphocytes that allows subsequent infections with diseases and finally death.

Research has also shown that certain selected drugs activate PKAI with a subsequent improvement of the T cell functions of the order of 300% for cells in culture. A number of other immunostimulating agents have also been found that also improve the immune's system functions. If activation of a signal pathway (protein kinase A type I) inside whiter blood cells (T lymphocytes) can be prevented by a new series of selected drugs then the immune system can be considerably improved and even be normalised, i.e. functions as if it is absolutely healthy. It can therefore subsequently attack the HIV virus anywhere that the virus is still lurking and eliminate it.

Currently research project partners have identified the possible pathways for modulating the immune system and have found compounds that will lead to an adjuvant immunostimulating therapy for HIV. The proprietary technology acquired is currently used for the development of drugs based on these compounds and partners are being sought to aid this important effort on a joint venture agreement. Given the importance of this lethal disease, HIV, and its fast growing numbers all over the world an avalanche of economic benefits is expected if this idea is materialised into useful drugs.
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