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Research Leads to First Treatment for Drug-Resistant HIV

'm so grateful it has turned into a drug and been approved by the FDA so quickly."

The molecule Ghosh created is expected to be available to physicians this year, he said.

"I think that this drug will have a sizeable impact on the current therapy for AIDS and HIV infection," said Hiroaki Mitsuya (pronounced HE-row-ah-key MIT-sue-ya), chief and principal investigator of the Experimental Retrovirology Section at the National Cancer Institute who collaborated with Ghosh in this research.

Molecules are made up of groups of atoms bonded together. These bonded groups form an oddly shaped structure with sections that branch off and others that form loops. Different sections are responsible for various behaviors of the molecule.

Ghosh's designed compound has selected features of naturally occurring molecules that improve its ability to fight HIV. The result is a variation of one of the most common treatments existing today, a protease inhibitor.

Protease is an enzyme necessary for HIV to reproduce properly. A protease inhibitor binds to protease, making it unusable by the virus. Without the use of protease, HIV is incapable of infecting cells and harming the patient. By reducing the amount of active virus, patients' bodies have an increased ability to fend off opportunistic infections, the leading cause of death for those with AIDS.

Eight protease inhibitors are currently on the market and have greatly improved the quality of life for those suffering from HIV, Ghosh said. These inhibitors, however, lose their effectiveness over time, often cause severe side effects and are ineffective against drug-resistant HIV strains, he said.

Treatment using the molecule designed by Ghosh has fewer associated side effects because the dose required is significantly less than those for existing protease inhibitors. The molecule also is smaller than those that make up current protease inhibitors and is much
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