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New class of drug offers hope to treatment-resistant AIDS patients
Date:10/12/2007

Athens, Ga. For the estimated millions of AIDS patients worldwide who are resistant or are developing resistance to currently available medicines, a discovery by a University of Georgia researcher may offer a new treatment option by targeting a previously elusive enzyme in the complex retrovirus responsible for the devastating disease.

Approximately 40 million people worldwide have the infectious viral disease known as HIV-AIDS. Although the number of drug-resistant patients is extremely difficult to estimate, resistance to AIDS medications is widely viewed as a major global public health problem.

A series of HIV integrase inhibitors discovered by Vasu Nair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Drug Discovery at the University of Georgia, recently was licensed by Georgia biotechnology company Inhibitex from the University of Georgia Research Foundation. The license included upfront license fees and shares of the companys common stock, as well as future milestone payments and royalties.

Inhibitex has also agreed to provide significant research funding to support continued research and development activity related to the licensed patents and for drug discovery of new agents to treat patients infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Co-infection by HCV and other viruses is a problem commonly encountered by HIV-AIDS patients.

HIV relies on the activity of three key enzymes to survive and proliferate in the body: reverse transcriptase, protease and integrase. While effective combinations of HIV drugs attack the first two enzymes to stop replication, no fully approved drugs stop the action of the HIV integrase enzyme, the insertion of HIV DNA into human DNA. Nair calls this step in replication the most devastating in HIVs attack on human cells. Because there is no human enzyme counterpart of HIV integrase, it is a particularly significant and attractive disease target in the HIV replication cycle for intervention b
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Contact: Kim Osborne
kosborne@uga.edu
706-583-0913
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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