University of Minnesota Developing New HIV Drug

February 12, 2016

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing a new HIV drug that is particularly promising because it is both effective and cheaper than other available options, an article on Digital Journal reports.
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The new drug, called 5-azacytidine, is unique because unlike other medications, it is not DNA-based. Instead it acts directly upon the RNA that the virus uses once it has entered a cell to create more HIV DNA. RNA-based treatments represent a new opportunity to block the virus' ability to spread through hypermutation. When HIV-infected DNA replicates itself using RNA treated with 5-azacytidine, it converts the drug into a form of DNA called 5-azadeoxycytidine. This then activates mutations that disrupt the virus' capacity to replicate.    

Dr Louis Mansky, a lead researcher in the study, noted in an interview with Laboratory Roots that "We now understand the mechanism for how 5-azacytidine blocks HIV's infectivity through hypermutation. This information may aid in developing cheaper HIV drugs." The availability of effective and cheaper RNA-based HIV treatments holds promise for the millions of people with HIV worldwide, many of whom struggle to access the cost-prohibitive medications.—Katie Grosso

Reference: Sandle T. New, lower cost HIV drug developed. Digital Journal. February 6, 2016.