A team of Yale researchers tested a new chemical compound that suppresses HIV, protects immune cells, and remains effective for weeks with a single dose. In animal experiments, the compound proved to be a promising new candidate to enhance current HIV treatment regimens — without increasing toxic side effects, researchers point out.
The finding used computational and structure-based design methods to develop a class of compounds that target a viral protein essential for HIV to replicate. Researchers refined this class of compounds to boost potency, lower toxicity, and improve drug-like properties in order to identify a promising preclinical drug candidate. The drug candidate was tested in mice with transplanted human blood cells and transmitted with HIV.
In the humanized mice, the compound achieved key goals of HIV treatment: It suppressed the virus to undetectable levels in the blood, protected the immune cells that the virus targets, and worked synergistically with approved HIV medications, researchers said.
Additionally, researchers found the effects of a single dose of the compound — delivered in a long-acting nanoparticle form — lasted nearly a month.
While further testing is needed, the compound has potential for improving treatment for HIV, impacting nearly 37 million people worldwide, according to amfAR.
The study, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was supported by National Institute of Health grants.