With focus largely on HIV treatment in developing African nations, the recent International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in Cape Town, South Africa highlighted improvements in treatment for people living with HIV in Australia are still flowing steadily.
ACON client services director Russell Westacott attended the conference and said although the flood of new HIV treatment drugs had slowed somewhat since the Sydney conference two years ago, some quiet gains were discussed, including the early stages of a promising new integrase inhibitor compound.
-œIt looks very promising in the early trials. It’s a low dose which means it will probably have very few side effects, he said.
The new GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) integrase inbibitor, known under the working title GSK1349572, is in its phase one trial and is part of a class of drugs aimed at shortening the life cycle of the virus.
-œIt will join a couple of other integrase inhibitors that are fairly well progressed in terms of their testing and about to be released, Westacott said.
He said the pipeline of new drugs had slowed down with many now in the trial phase and pointed to recent drug company research which indicates Abacavir, another commonly prescribed drug, does not present the link to cardio problems first thought.
-œThere were stories in the media about a year or so ago that it [Abacavir] was connected to cardiovascular problems. More recent and focused studies show no connection to cardiovascular disease. What the studies did show was high viral load had more of a connection to cardiovascular disease.
-œI think it’s probably an unsurprising find…the more the virus is in the body over an extended period of time, it impacts negatively on the body.
Further conference discussion centred around new research to understand what’s known as -˜latent virus’ in those with an undetectable viral load, resulting in virus-harbouring in certain reservoirs of the body, such as the lymphatic system.
-œThere’s new research going on to understand where latent virus might exist and how to attack it, Westacott said.
-œIf we can achieve undetectable viral load in the blood and then actually attack or treat those reservoirs in the body where latent virus might exist, it could have implications for reducing the amount of virus, or even eradicating the virus, from the body.
-œA lot of that research is still in the early stages. I think it’s a bit of a -˜watch this space’. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.

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