HIV Breakthrough: Only 2 Shots a Year Could Prevent Replication of the Virus

In an article published in Nature magazine, researchers explain that they have developed the GS-6207 molecule, which is capable of stopping the replication of HIV by targeting the viruses’ envelope. And this is true of strains resistant to current antiretroviral agents.

HIV Virus

HIV Virus

A new stage in the fight against the AIDS virus has just been reached. Although there is currently no cure or vaccine for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), researchers at the pharmaceutical company Gilead have made a breakthrough that could eventually become a new therapy in the long term.

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In a study published in Nature magazine, they explain that they have developed a new molecule that targets the HIV envelope, the capsid, where genetic material is found. The molecule, called GS-6207, attaches itself firmly to the capsule and interrupts the virus’ life cycle, preventing it from replicating.

Up to 6 months of efficacy

GS-6207 was first tested in the laboratory and is all the more promising as it has been shown to be effective against several strains of HIV, some of which are resistant to certain antiretroviral treatments.

It was then administered to 32 HIV-1 patients in a clinical trial. A single dose of GS-6207 significantly reduced their viral loads (by 22 to 160 times) in just nine days. In addition, researchers discovered that the molecule remained in the body for a long time without having to be administered again. Thus, the concentration of the product, which was effective enough to inhibit 95% of virus replication, was maintained for up to six months with two subcutaneous injections per year. This is a great advantage in helping patients to follow their treatment.

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Still not approved for sale yet

However, the clinical trials are far from complete and the product has not yet been approved for marketing. New tests are needed to measure the safety of the treatment and the absence of serious side effects. Another test, conducted on 40 healthy volunteers, eight of whom had received a placebo, showed that the molecule caused in 75% of subjects only moderate and reversible side effects such as rashes or reactions at the injection site.

According to the authors of the study, GS-6207 is all the more promising as it can be used not only for treatment but also as a preventive measure in risk groups such as the pre-exposure prophylaxis pill (PrEP). They, therefore, conclude that it is a ‘potentially transformative tool in efforts to end the global HIV epidemic’.

References

Clinical targeting of HIV capsid protein with a long-acting small molecule

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