US scientists have created an inhibitor using a combination of two drugs to help prevent HIV virus from being transmitted.
The inhibitor, a novel combination of two existing drugs, has a strength that ranges from several times better than existing inhibitors to several hundred times better, depending on the strain of HIV.
The inhibitor works by blocking HIV from entering a person’s cell at two different steps of viral entry.
This so-called “entry inhibition” is at the forefront of new strategies for stopping the virus. Other existing inhibitors have different strategies, such as preventing HIV from carrying out activities like replicating or integrating into the human genome.
There are hundreds of different strains of HIV, said UC Merced Professor Patricia LiWang, and the virus mutates when it gets inside a person’s body.
“However, since this drug is a combination of two inhibitors, it would be nearly impossible for a virus to mutate so it wouldn’t get hit with either one of these drugs,” she explained.
The inhibitor is a special protein produced from harmless bacteria, which allows for large amounts to be made. The inhibitor could be added to a vaginal cream that woman could apply to guard against the virus.
Though the discovery is promising, much more testing and development is needed before it could be used by people in countries ravaged by the AIDS epidemic.
The study has been published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.