A New Class of Anti-AIDS Drugs?

  • Author: Melania Tesio
  • Published: 15 January 2014
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Nature Medicine/Nature Publishing
thumbnail image: A New Class of Anti-AIDS Drugs?

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a severe disease characterized by a progressive failure of the immune system. It is caused by HIV (immunodeficiency virus), a pathogen that infects immune cells (CD4 T cells) inducing them to die. Although numerous antiviral drugs have been developed, their efficacy is limited as HIV mutates, rendering it resistant to therapies.

By studying the mechanism underlying HIV-induced immune cell death, Warmer Green and co-workers, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA, identified a potential new class of anti-AIDS therapeutics. The researchers demonstrated that VX-765 (pictured), a well-tolerated inhibitor of the enzyme caspase 1, blocks the destruction of immune cells that occurs during HIV infection.

As VX-765 targets a host protein rather than the HIV virus, it could potentially fight HIV infections without inducing drug resistance.

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