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Long-Acting Drug in Development

By Jeff Berry and Enid Vázquez

November/December 2012

Chinese researchers presented proof-of-concept (in other words, "this can work") data on a long-acting HIV fusion inhibitor medication, which suppressed HIV for six to ten days after a single injection.

Currently, Fuzeon is the only fusion inhibitor on the market. Fuzeon is self-administered every 12 hours as a subcutaneous injection.

According to the study abstract, "Despite great progress made in combating HIV infection and saving lives with antiretroviral drugs, poor patient compliance and drug resistance remain major causes of treatment failure. Therefore, long-acting anti-HIV agents that are effective in treating drug-resistant HIV viruses while allowing simpler regimens are greatly needed."

Data were presented from a dose-escalating study and a four-week multipledose study in which people received albuvirtide daily via intravenous (IV) injection for the first three days followed by two once-weekly doses after the first week.

No injection site reactions were seen and albuvirtide was determined to be safe and well-tolerated by all the study participants who took it. Furthermore, no antibodies were developed against albuvirtide. Albuvirtide is made up of large molecues, and that raises concern about the potential for the body to react with antibodies, which could inactivate the drug or cause medical problems. Greater viral suppression was seen with higher doses. The researchers said a study combining albuvirtide with other HIV drugs should be conducted.

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