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Chemical to block HIV infection identified

The research is in its initial stage and is many years away from being tested on humans to know its true value.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 12:48 IST

US scientists claim to have identified a chemical that could block HIV infection.

Laboratory tests of the chemical, CSA-54, revealed that it disables the virus's ability to infect cells.

The tests were carried out by a team from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, headed by Derya Unutmaz, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.

HIV specifically targets a type of immune cell called CD4+. The tests showed that CSA-54 blocked infection by disrupting HIV's ability to interact with the cells.

"We have some preliminary but very exciting results," Unutmaz said. "But we would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype."

He added, "This is particularly important as a compound that targets the viral membrane is likely to be effective against all strains of the virus, regardless of mutations as the viral membrane remains unchanged."

"In the last few years, HIV treatments have come a long way towards giving people longevity and quality of life, but AIDS continues to kill more people worldwide than any other infectious disease."

The chemical was developed by scientists at Brigham Young University, Utah, and is licensed to a company called Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals.

Brigham Young University and Vanderbilt have jointly filed a patent on the compounds.

US scientist Roger Pebody said, "This is a novel approach to stopping the virus infecting other cells. However, this is test tube research in its initial stage and is many years away from clinical trials. We will need to see tests on humans before we can know its true value."

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 12:48 IST