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Research on cells' 'power centers' sheds light on AIDS treatments

October 9, 2002 Research On Cells' 'Power Centers' Sheds Light On Aids Treatments WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Companies that create HIV-AIDS drugs now have key information that could assist in making new medications with fewer side effects. Researchers Henry Weiner, a professor of biochemistry at Purdue University, Steven Zollo of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Lauren Wood of the National Cancer Institute, noted the similarity between HIV-AIDS treatment side effects and naturally occurring diseases. Certain HIV-AIDS treatment side effects, such as fat loss and insulin resistance, clinically resemble diseases of the mitochondria, the "power centers" in cells, that affect the functioning of other parts of the cell. The researchers hypothesized that the drugs to combat HIV infection also might inadvertently affect the functioning of the mitochondria. "Finding that a drug affects a different target than the one it was designed for is not unusual," said Weiner, an expert on protein processing in the mitochondria. The team speculated that current AIDS treatments using drugs that inhibit HIV proteins also could inhibit a key mitochondrial protein. This speculation fits the observation by doctors that side effects resembling mitochondrial dysfunction originated after new drugs became part of the standard drug "cocktail" used to treat AIDS patients. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, or HAART, has prolonged the lives of many, but also has been associated with side effects such as diabetes, high cholesterol and the development of fatty deposits. To test the theory that the drugs were inhibiting the mitochondria, the researchers flooded isolated mitochondria with large amounts of the drugs and then measured the levels of processed protein in the mitochondria. They found that a number of HIV-AIDS drugs can inhibit mitochondrial processing. Although these findings suggest a possible link between HIV-AIDS drugs
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Contact: Beth Forbes
forbes@purdue.edu
765-494-2722
Purdue University
9-Oct-2002


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