As HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, continues to spread globally, there is increased demand for a drug that can effectively prevent HIV infection. Even more appealing is a drug that could guard against HIV over the long term, and not require a daily dose. Thanks to an experimental drug known as GSK744, hope may be on the horizon. Injection of GSK744 was found to prevent rectal transmission of HIV in 12 of 12 male monkeys back in April 2014, and has more recently been reported to protect 12 of 14 female monkeys from vaginal infection. GSK744 acts by hampering the virus’s ability to replicate, but its method of delivery makes it unique. The drug, packaged inside small particles, is injected straight into muscle, where it can slowly enter the blood stream. This delayed entry means that a single treatment can confer protection against HIV for at least three months. Clinical trials of GSK744 now underway in many countries show no serious toxicity of the drug in humans, and are also examining its efficacy in patients already infected with the virus. Continued success in human trials would mean that GSK744 could reach the market as early as 2020, and begin helping some of the most high-risk populations.
Acknowledgments: Many thanks to Enrique Garcia-Rivera, a graduate student in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard University, for his expertise and commentary on the topic.
Managing Editor: Laura L. Smith
Drug Injection Protects Monkeys from Vaginal HIV Infection (LA Times)
Discovery and Development of Integrase Inhibitors (Wiki)