Scientists are developing a new way of tackling HIV, using a drug which blocks the assembly of the virus. US researchers, working with Panacos Pharmaceuticals which makes the drug, found it was effective in a small-scale human trial, New Scientist reports. PA-457 will now be given in combination with other HIV drugs to people whose existing treatment is failing. Experts said there was a lot of interest in PA-457, but warned it would not be available for some years. The demand for new forms of medication is great. About 80% of people being treated for HIV show resistance to one or more of their drugs, a spokesman for Panacos said. There are several existing ways of tackling HIV. Many medications work by blocking reverse transcriptase, an enzyme which enables HIV to replicate within a cell. Others disable protease, which helps to assemble the virus into particles to infect other cells. Shield ‘disabled’ PA- 457, a derivative of betulinic acid, is a cheap by-product of the paper industry and one of a new class of drugs called maturation inhibitors. It works by interfering with the production of the capsid protein, […]

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