SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

New antiretroviral drug shows promise as HIV vaccine

A new anti-HIV drug may protect users against the potentially deadly infection, but it must be taken as prescribed, studies by Rockefeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC), published recently in Science Translational Medicine, said.

HIV researchers hope the new antiretroviral drug, cabotegravir, can make dosing easier for some because the drug would be administered by injection once every three months. A clinical trial looking at the safety and efficacy of cabotegravir already has started at several U.S. labs, including Rockefeller University Hospital. Two other studies at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and Rockefeller University discuss how cabotegravir injections worked well in a monkey subject.

"Clinical trial results have demonstrated that the effectiveness of preventive oral medications can range with results as high as 75 percent effectiveness to as low as ineffective, and a lot of that variability appears to hinge on the patient's ability to take the pills as prescribed," Rockefeller University and ADARC researcher Martin Markowitz said. "Long-acting cabotegravir has the potential to create an option that could improve adherence by making it possible to receive the drug by injection once every three months."

Cabotegravir was developed by ViiV Healthcare and GlaxoSmithKline, and previously was known as GSK744 LA. Antiretroviral drugs can interfere with HIV's ability to duplicate itself using host cells and are used to treat HIV infections or to prevent those at high risk from acquiring the virus initially.

"While we are still a long way off from showing that this drug works for HIV prevention in humans, our hope is that it may one day offer high-risk women, as well as men, an additional option for HIV prevention," Markowitz said. "One of the lessons we have learned from contraception is the more options available, the better. We are hoping for the same in HIV prevention -- more options and better results."