AIDS is a fatal illness that affects the immune system. It accounts for millions of deaths each year and is a serious worldwide epidemic. Over forty million people in the world are infected with AIDS. The immune system degenerates, making those infected susceptible to infection and disease. Over three million people died of this disease in 2005. There is no cure for AIDS but there are treatments available to help slow the progression. AIDS is researched throughout the world in order to discover new treatments to prolong life and to find a cure. Currently, there have been studies on two new drugs that show promising results.
Merck & Co., a drug manufacturer in New Jersey, conducted clinical trials on a new pill. It is to be taken orally twice per day to help slow the progression of the disease. Studies indicated this drug is performing better than the other medications currently on the market. This drug will be especially beneficial to long term AIDS sufferers who have developed a resistance to pharmaceuticals existing today.
The studies were performed on 167 patients who have shown progression of the disease and have critically impaired health. Many of these patients have taken the drug AZT, a common treatment, for more than ten years. In the clinical trials, varying doses of the drug were experimented on with patients with varying conditions. In the most successful group, seventy two percent of the patients showed an improvement with virus levels becoming undetectable. In the least successful group, virus levels were reduced to undetectable amounts in fifty six percent. The results of the clinical trial were surprising but welcomed. The effects were astounding and the drug manufacturer is hopeful that it will help prolong the lives of people with AIDS. They are continuing to conduct research in larger trials and hope to apply for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2007.
Gilead Sciences, a competing drug manufacturer, also showed positive results from a similar type drug. Although the clinical trials were much smaller then Merck’s, the company is hopeful the results will set the stage for larger trials. The drug is called an integrase inhibitor. Integrase is an enzyme that speeds the progression of HIV. The inhibitor blocks the enzyme, slowing this process. The initial trials were only conducted with only ten patients. However, after ten days there was a one hundred fold reduction in virus levels. Similar to the Merck study, this shows promise in helping to prolong the life of patients. This pill will be taken once per day in conjunction with Novir, another AIDS medication. Increased studies of this drug will begin in the spring of 2006.
Although AIDS is a world wide epidemic with no cure as of yet, continuing research is showing promise. Recent studies indicate there will soon be two new drugs available for treatment, both showing incredibly enhanced improvement from existing medications. As science advances, scientists are hopeful that they will one day find a cure for this disease, eradicating it from existence.