Monday, August 21, 2006

A Salute To Science

After watching the highly entertaining, yet disturbing independent film Side Effects this past weekend a silent laugh could be heard after reading the headline. However, upon reading the story a salute to science is in order.

An experimental HIV drug won't cure the disease but could be an important tool in managing infection, especially in patients who have developed resistance to existing medications.Anti-viral drugs called protease inhibitors have been the gold standard for treating HIV since the mid-1990s, but the virus is becoming increasingly resistant.

The existing combination of pills also produces side effects such as problems with cholesterol or blood fat, as well as problems with body shape and the distribution of fat.
U.S. researchers reported the early results of a trial that randomly compared a new class of drugs to protease inhibitors at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto last Thursday."At 25 weeks, approximately 85 to 95 per cent of the patients had viral loads that were below the level of detection," said Dr. Martin Markowitz, a professor at Rockefeller University in New York who presented the trial findings. The compound, known as MK-0158, was tested in 198 people who recently began treatment. Existing drugs interfere with how HIV copies its genetic material once it enters a cell or with how the genetic material gets expressed after it enters human chromosomes — two of the three steps the virus must complete.

The new class of drugs, called integrase inhibitors, stops the genetic material's ability to integrate with the host chromosome. Doctors at the conference were excited about the potential of the new class of drugs, but caution it could be months before the drugs are ready to go to Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.This is excellent news in the on-going fight against this horrible disease. The question now is after the trial, how long before the FDA will approve these new drugs and how much will they cost?

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