Scientists have developed a new delivery system for a combination of two HIV drugs that may serve as an effective treatment for the deadly virus.
The discovery, which allows for a combination of decitabine and gemcitabine to be delivered in pill form, marks a major step forward in patient feasibility for the drugs, which previously had been available solely via injection or intravenous therapy (IV), researchers said.
"If you have a condition that requires you to take a medication everyday, as many patients with HIV do, you wouldn't want to have to take that medication via daily injection," said Steven Patterson, professor at the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota.
"This finding is a big step in demonstrating this treatment could be taken as a pill, similar to other HIV drugs, and is suitable for eventual clinical translation," said Patterson.
Researchers first announced decitabine and gemcitabine, both FDA approved drugs, could potentially combine to treat HIV in August 2010.
The drug combination was shown to work by lethal mutagenesis that could obliterate HIV by causing the virus to mutate to a point where it was no longer infectious.
For some patients, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)'s ability to quickly mutate and evolve can result in drug resistance, researchers said.
For patients who have developed resistance to currently available HIV treatments, the decitabine-gemcitabine drug combination could prove an effective alternative and secondary line of defence.
In addition to a potentially effective treatment for humans with HIV, the combination also shows potential to treat cats with leukaemia, researchers said.
"There's still a lot of work that needs to be done to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of this drug combination before human clinical trials can begin," said Patterson.
"But we're optimistic that we're moving forward," said Patterson.
The study, coauthored by Christine Clouser, Laurent Bonnac, Louis Mansky, and Steven Patterson, was published in the journal Antiviral Chemistry & Chemotherapy.