Long-Acting Drug Has Potential to Protect Against HIV Infection
|Chasity Andrews, PhD|
A new, long-acting integrase inhibitor - GSK744LAP - successfully protected macaques against SHIV infection,
reported Chasity Andrews, PhD, a post-doctoral Fellow in Dr. David Ho's
laboratory. Dr. Andrews presented the promising results of the recent
study at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.
With the promise of an effective HIV vaccine still many years away,
there is a great need in the field for long-acting agents that can be
used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
A recent trial of daily oral combination therapy as PrEP showed that adherence can be a significant barrier
to the drugs' effectiveness. The new product currently being tested by
Dr. Andrews and her colleagues has the potential to remain effective for
up to three months, so people could remain protected against HIV
infection with only four annual injections.
In this study,
the goal was to test the drug's efficacy as a PrEP agent in rhesus
macaques. Half of the macaques were treated with GSK744LAP, the other
half remained untreated to serve as controls. All animals were then
challenged repeatedly with SHIV (simian-human immunodeficiency virus, an engineered virus which combines elements of HIV and SIV).
Scientists analyzed the animals' blood to check for infection and to
test the levels of the drug. The results were remarkable - after 7
weeks, all control animals became infected, whereas all monkeys treated
with GSK744LAP remained uninfected. The next step will be another animal
study to determine how long the drug can remain effective. That will be
helpful in establishing the correct dosage when the drug finally
reaches large-scale clinical trials among people at high risk for HIV
are optimistic that this drug will be an effective and well tolerated
PrEP agent once it is tested among healthy human volunteers," said Dr.
Andrews, who joined Dr. Ho's laboratory in 2011 after completing her PhD
at the University of Michigan. A native of North Carolina, she became
interested in vaccine research because of its potential to go beyond the
bench. "I am highly motivated by science that has the potential to
impact human health, which led me to Dr. Ho's group," Dr. Andrews said.
"This project is exciting because it has the potential to impact the
HIV/AIDS epidemic in the near future."
You can support Dr. Andrews's work in HIV prevention by making a donation to ADARC.
Getting to Zero: Towards Eliminating Pediatric HIV/AIDS in Yunnan, China
2005, ADARC launched a program to prevent mother-to-child transmission
of HIV/AIDS as a response to an urgent public health problem: the high
incidence rates of HIV/AIDS in Yunnan, China, particularly among babies
born to HIV-positive women. Though these infections are highly
preventable, without intervention up to 35% of babies will become
infected. Almost half of babies born HIV-positive will die before their
second birthday if not diagnosed and treated.
demonstration project started in only six counties, and included
testing and treating HIV-positive mothers with combination therapy to
improve their health and protect their newborns. With intervention,
transmission rates dropped from 33% to about 2% - the same seen in urban
areas in developed countries. Later, the program expanded to 26
counties, and broadened to include routine screening and care for
syphilis and hepatitis B, diseases that can also be transmitted from
mother to child. In collaboration with local government and healthcare
workers, we provided training to strengthen local health infrastructure,
ensuring the program's sustainability. The success of this model has
led to its adoption as the official protocol of the Chinese PMTCT
program, which will protect thousands of babies across China every year.
To learn more about the success of this program, click here.
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