January/February #193 : Treatment: Antifungal Agent Fights HIV - by Benjamin Ryan

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January / February 2014

Treatment: Antifungal Agent Fights HIV

by Benjamin Ryan

The topical antifungal agent ciclopirox wipes out HIV in laboratory studies by causing the infected cells to effectively commit suicide, and it does not lead to viral rebound after the therapy is stopped. One of the reasons that HIV manages to survive in the body even with antiretroviral therapy is because the virus blocks cells’ natural process of ending their own lives in the event that they are damaged or infected. Examining how ciclopirox reacted with HIV-infected cells in the lab, scientists found that the antifungal fought the virus by suppressing certain HIV genes and also interfering with the cells’ mitochondria—thus undoing HIV’s ability to stop the suicide process. Good news is that uninfected cells and tissues were not affected by the treatment. Since ciclopirox is already FDA-approved, future human trials should run at a faster clip than with an investigatory drug. There’s a possibility that the drug may prove useful as a topical application to reduce sexual transmission of the virus.

Search: antifungal agent, ciclopirox, FDA

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