CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- AIDS investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are testing the first of a new class of drugs that attacks HIV before it enters the cell and may prove effective for patients with drug-resistant HIV.
The fusion inhibitor, known as T-20, prevents HIV from fusing with the cell surface membrane. Thus, T-20 attacks HIV in an entirely different way than the most potent HIV agents now in use.
"HIV resistant to the currently available medications would not be expected to be resistant to this drug because of its unique action," says Dr. Joseph Eron, associate professor of medicine at the UNC-CH School of Medicine.
On Feb. 4, Eron will present detailed findings of the study at the Sixth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Chicago.
Eron is a principal investigator for this multi-center study begun in August and sponsored by Durham-based Trimeris, Inc., maker of T-20. He says the results are impressive, "particularly when one considers the population that enrolled in this clinical trial is extremely difficult to treat."
The infectious disease specialist notes that the average number of anti-HIV medications taken by the 78 HIV-infected patients prior to the Trimeris Phase II Clinical Trial was nine. None of the agents, including an average of three protease inhibitors per patient, had proven effective in these patients over the long-term. Additionally daunting was the patients' very high average baseline viral load -- the concentration of HIV particles per milliliter of blood. But according to Eron, patients in the new trial taking higher T-20 doses showed up to 90 percent reductions in viral load without major side effects.
In the trial, T-20 was given for 28 days either by continuous subcutaneous
infusion or simply by injecting it subcutaneously (much like insulin is
administered in diabetes). T-20 was also given either as part of an
anti-retroviral drug "c
Contact: Lynn Wooten
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill