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New Potential HIV Vaccine Drug 'Absolutely 100% Effective' In Monkeys

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New Potential HIV Vaccine Drug 'Absolutely 100% Effective' In Monkeys

According to a recent article in Nature, an experimental drug being tested at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida has been effective in blocking HIV infection in monkeys. The new drug has yet to be tested on humans, but preliminary results in animal testing have researchers excited about the potential of the drug.

After nearly three decades of efforts, a vaccination and/or cure for HIV in humans is still one of the elusive holy grails of medical research. Approximately 35 million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus.

How It Works

The HIV virus typically enters human cells via two different pathways. The new drug, eCD4-IG, is a protein that blocks both of the paths of potential entry for the virus.

So far, the drug has been tested on four monkeys. All four monkeys were protected from HIV infection for 40 months after being “vaccinated” with the protein.

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Scientists Optimistic

Scripps Research Institute professor and lead author of the study Michael Farzan is excited about the path forward for the drug. “There is no question it is by far the broadest entry inhibitor out there,” he explained. “It is absolutely 100 percent effective.”

Nancy Haigwood, an HIV researcher at Oregon Health and Science University Agrees that the drug has major potential. “This is going to be much better than any vaccine on the horizon,” she said.

According to Farzan, human trials of eCD4-IG could begin within the next year. As for now, the next round of animal testing is already underway.

Trading Ideas

It will likely be years before the experimental eCD4-IG makes any kind of market impact. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is the current industry leader in HIV treatment drugs, but GlaxoSmithKline Plc (NYSE: GSK) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) jointly-owned ViiV Healthcare’s HIV drug Tivicay is also expected to reach nearly $1 billion in sales by 2017.

However, if eCD4-IG is found to be as effective in humans as it has been so far in animals, the new drug could eventually render the current leading HIV treatments obsolete.

 

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