Sunday, March 11, 2007

Revenge of the nerds - Two news stories about how scientists are keeping pace with HIV

I tell my patients that, if they always take their medicines on schedule, they can live long, healthy lives. I tell them this because it is true.

Since the word "always" cannot actually be applied to normal human behavior (especially that of children), doses are inevitably missed, and following continued imperfect dosing comes resistance.

Viral resistance to ARVs, of course, means a return to sickness and a shortened life.

Fortunately, human beings are at least as innovative as they are inconsistent, and scientists continue to find new ways to keep pace with the ever-evolving retrovirus.

Daily, I allow myself to hope that our clinic's youngest patients will die of that vague syndrome we call "old age" rather than acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

When I come across news stories like the two cited below, I am reassured that such hope is not unfounded.

The first story discusses two new classes of drugs --CCR5 and integrase inhibitors--which have been found to control the viral loads of HIV-positive people with drug resistance. The second discusses a compound called cyclotriazadisulfonamide (CADA), which promises to inhibit replication of HIV by eliminating the "door handle" by which receptor molecules on the surface of a white blood cell normally grab HIV.

Complicated, hopeful stuff, no?


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