New protease inhibitor looks promising

An antiretroviral medication under development may work in HIV-infected patients for whom existing drugs fall short.

The new drug, called TMC114 by maker Tibotec of Mechelen, Belgium, belongs to a class of agents known as protease inhibitors, which are commonly prescribed to control HIV but often lose effectiveness over time. Richard Haubrich of the University of California, San Diego and his colleagues gave various doses of TMC114 to almost 400 people for whom a different protease inhibitor was failing to control HIV.

Compared with 100 volunteers who received standard drug treatment during the initial 24 weeks of an ongoing study, those receiving TMC114 had significant reductions in the presence of viral particles in their blood. The most effective dose reduced this viral load by 97 percent, on average, Haubrich reported late last month in Boston at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection.

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