University of Texas Medical Branch researchers may have found a new medication that will work with an infected individual’s own body to suppress the virus even more than current HIV treatments have not been able to fight.
While the new drug could be used in conjunction with other HIV antiretroviral therapy drugs, it’s also possible that the new drug could result in HIV remission without the need of ART medications for the rest of a person’s life.
The challenge that comes with fighting HIV is that it integrates itself into a person’s genetic code and leads to a continuous dormant infection., which makes it that much more difficult to treat the disease. This is why some of the current ART medicines are unable to cure the virus, and when a person quits using it, the virus begins multiplying rapidly.
Another problem with ART medications is that they can become drug resistance, and any HIV treatment goal includes the ability to keep the virus in remission.
UTMB assistant professor Haito Hu said the researchers were the first to demonstrate that BRD4 protein and machinery is able to control the suppressed dormant HIV. He said it helps researchers to understand HIV’s biology, and they can now work toward an approach that can silence HIV and potentially lead to a cure of the disease.
Researchers found BRD4 has a huge role in the regulating of making new HIV gene copies. The team came up with a design that evaluated and manufactured small molecules to the BRD4 to suppress HIV and revealed the ZL0580 compound. The lead molecule tested HIV infection models, and they learned that it dramatically delayed the dormant HIV reactivation after ART was stopped.
UTMB professor of the Pharmacology and Toxicology department Jia Zhou said researchers will continue optimizing the chemical structure and effectiveness as well as carry out safety testing in both animal and cellular studies. Zhou said the time is coming where clinical trials can begin, and HIV-infected people can get the help they need.