Researchers Identify Drug That May Help Reduce Some HIV-Related Health Problems

May 21, 2014

This article was reported by Drug Discovery & Development.

Drug Discovery & Development reported on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, in which researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research (CVR) found that a drug given to patients receiving kidney dialysis significantly reduced the levels of bacteria that escape from the gut and as a result, lessened health complications for non-human primates with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the simian form of HIV.

Ivona Pandrea, professor of pathology at CVR, and colleagues administered the drug sevelamer (brand names Renvela and Renagel) to monkeys recently infected with SIV. Protein levels in the treated monkeys indicated low microbial translocation whereas protein levels in untreated monkeys were four times higher after one week of SIV infection. Treated monkeys with lower microbial translocation had lower levels of a biomarker for blood clotting, proving what doctors had believed -- heart attacks and strokes in HIV-positive individuals are probably related to chronic immune system activation and inflammation rather than HIV drugs.

According to Pandrea, findings show that stopping bacteria from leaving the gut reduces rates of many HIV comorbidities. Pandrea noted that interventions for HIV-positive people begin after chronic infection when the gut is already severely damaged, hence treatments may not be as effective later in the infection. The study emphasized the importance of early and sustained drug treatment in HIV-positive individuals.

The full report, "Early Microbial Translocation Blockade Reduces SIV-Mediated Inflammation and Viral Replication," was published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (2014; doi:10.1172/JCI75090).

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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