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Scientists Developed Injectable Drug Offering Long-Term Protection from HIV Infection

Dec, 2021

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According to a recent collaborative study by the researchers of University of Utah Health (U OF U), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and Navigen, Inc. have developed an injectable drug that restricts HIV from entering the healthy cells. Moreover, the researchers also reported that this new drug offers long-term protection against HIV infections with less side effects. The drug was initially tested on non-human primates.

Michael S. Kay, M.D. Ph.D., a senior author of the study and a U of U Health professor of biochemistry stated, “This is an exciting new HIV therapeutic option for both prevention and treatment, with a unique mechanism of action compared to other approved drugs. It has great potential to help patients who suffer from drug resistance as well as those who would benefit from a longer-acting, injectable anti-HIV drug cocktail.”

In this research study, researchers examined a unique drug CPT31, which is based on a D-peptide targeting a critical pocket on HIV's fusion machinery, which rarely mutates. Moreover, these lasts much longer in comparison to natural peptides, which results them being suitable for a long-acting injectable formulation.

In order to observe the potential of CPT31 in preventing HIV infection, researchers initially injected the drug into healthy macaque monkeys before several days prior to exposure to a hybrid simian-human form of HIV known as SHIV. Later researchers observed that the monkeys were completely protected against very high SHIV exposure and there were no signs of developing infection.

Finally, researchers also evaluated the drug's ability to sustain viral suppression after a cART drug cocktail is stopped in animal model. Researchers observed that CPT31 by itself efficiently kept the virus at an untraceable level for several days (until drug administration was terminated).

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