Herpes Virus Changes Anti-Herpes Drug to Form that Hinders AIDS Virus
Researchers have found that an old drug shows new promise for treating AIDS.
Balintfy: Researchers have found that an old drug shows new promise for treating AIDS. Dr. Leonid Margolis from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, notes that the drug, acyclovir, has a long history.
Margolis: It's a well known drug which was
developed almost thirty years ago and can treat against herpes
Balintfy: Dr. Margolis explains that in a recent series of experiments, the drug suppressed herpes the way it was supposed to, but also suppressed HIV.
Margolis: And that was a kind of miracle because it should not be suppressed.
Balintfy: He points out that acyclovir is one of the most specific drugs in medicine.
Margolis: It should only work against herpes virus and not against HIV and that was tested many times.
Balintfy: Dr. Margolis's initial experiments, however, were conducted in tissue samples. His research team then took additional steps to avoid mixing HIV with any herpes viruses by testing cells.
Margolis: We confirmed what people had done before us that acyclovir doesn't suppress HIV in cell lines, but in tissues it does suppress, so that was the question: how? So we decided since it was again proven that acyclovir is so specific about herpes that somehow herpes is involved in this process.Balintfy: According to Dr. Margolis, the study findings show that when acyclovir is taken up by a cell infected with herpes viruses, the virus chemically alters the drug, adding a chemical compound called a phosphate group. Then the altered acyclovir interferes with the AIDS virus' ability to reproduce. For more on this study, visit www.nichd.nih.gov. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.