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Feline virus, antiviral drug studied to understand drug resistance
Date:10/10/2007

COLUMBUS , Ohio Researchers at Ohio State will spend the next two years testing their theories about just how an AIDS-like virus in cats is able to resist the powerful medicines that are thrown against it.

It's one of the latest efforts at understanding one of the leading problem areas in medicine today -- antimicrobial drug resistance. When bacteria or viruses become resistant to drugs, they become more difficult, or even impossible, to treat.

The project, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, could reveal how some viral infections become able to withstand antiviral medications and even thrive in the presence of some drugs.

If successful, the research might pave the way to smarter, more effective treatments for a host of pathogens that have learned to resist most therapeutic efforts.

The project grew from important discoveries made five years ago as part of a controversial research program investigating the impact of methamphetamine on feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) one of only three animal viruses that can be used to mimick HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections in humans.

Surprisingly, that project showed that the virus was able reproduce itself 15 times faster when methamphetamine was present.

The work also showed that FIV mutated rapidly to adapt to grow in astrocytes, the dominant cell type within the brain, and that this phenomenon was accelerated by exposure to methamphetamine.

That observation led to an epiphany of sorts, explained Lawrence Mathes, professor of veterinary biosciences and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator on the project.

If the virus becomes drug-resistant as it routinely mutates into this new form, would that drug resistance occur earlier if methamphetamine were present" he asked.

After an initial phase five years ago that used cats as the anim
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Contact: Earle Holland
holland.8@osu.edu
614-292-8384
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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