West Lafayette, Ind. -- Doctors have their first FDA-approved tool to treat drug-resistant HIV thanks to a new molecule created by a Purdue University researcher.
"There are many treatments for AIDS on the market, but none are able to combat drug resistance," said Arun Ghosh (pronounced A-rune GO-sh), a professor with a dual appointment in the departments of chemistry and medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. "This is the first treatment that is effective against the growing number of drug-resistant strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The problem is widespread."
The FDA recently approved the pill-based therapy of Ghosh's molecule, TMC-114, for medical use. The molecule, also known as Darunavir (pronounced DA-rune-a-veer), is the forerunner in a series of molecules under development by Ghosh.
Earlier research shows that almost half of patients with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who initially respond to treatment develop drug-resistant strains and stop responding to treatment within eight to 10 months, he said. An additional 20 percent to 40 percent of patients have drug-resistant strains when they are first diagnosed, suggesting these strains can be transmitted from one person to the next.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first reported U.S. cases of AIDS, a disease that claims the lives of more than 15,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Health Organization figures estimate more than 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV.
For years the virus has frustrated drug developers through its ability to "outsmart" therapies. The virus rapidly mutates and, as parts of its structure change, it becomes resistant to treatment. Previously, patients with drug-resistant strains were out of options and had greatly reduced life expectancies.