By far the medical front has witnessed just one efficient microbicide to prohibit sexual transmission of HIV. As a step towards this direction, researchers from the University of Utah have seemingly uncovered a new set of compounds that glue to the sugary layer of the AIDS virus and prohibit it from inflicting other cells.
The scientists are on the verge of developing a possible new microbicide which has shown itself in the form of gels and other substances to be used in the vagina of women in Africa and other places. Anti-AIDS therapies are known to primarily target the 2 phases of viral entry and viral replication in the HIV life span.
Senior author, Patrick F. Kiser, associate professor of bioengineering and adjunct associate professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Utah, shared, “Most of the anti-HIV drugs in clinical trials target the machinery involved in viral replication. There is a gap in the HIV treatment pipeline for cost-effective and mass-producible viral entry inhibitors that can inactivate the virus before it has a chance to interact with target cells.”
Lectins obtained from plants and animals are known to prevent intrusion of HIV into cells by sticking to sugars found in the exterior of the virus to trick the immune system. Considering that the cost of natural lectins is too high, the team used artificial lectins constituting a compound called benzoboroxole or BzB, that integrates to sugars present on the HIV structure.
The analysts found that lectins based on BzB seemed to get stuck to the HIV envelope, but the bond was too fragile. They therefore created polymers of synthetic lectins that contain greater concentrations of BzB binding locations. These larger densities of BzB sites on man-made lectins appeared to enhance its potential of clinging to the AIDS virus and thus elevated antiviral actions.
Kiser puts it that the polymers they made were very effective in a way that dissolving just one sugar cube’s mass of the benzoboroxole polymer in a bath tub of water could be sufficient to restrain HIV affliction in cells. Since the viral envelopes vary with strains, so any new treatment ought to be tested on varied strains of HIV.
The aforesaid substances also did not seem to affect other viruses and worked specifically on HIV viruses. The investigators also evaluated the anti-HIV activity of these synthetic lectins while the fructose in semen was present. The latter is touted to have the ability of giving up on the activity of lectin since it offers an alternative binding site. But what the scientists found was that the anti-HIV activity of synthetic lectins seemed to be completely conserved while fructose existed.
Kiser believes that the benzoboroxole-based synthetic lectins supposedly meet all the criteria for an ideal anti-HIV microbicide. Future analysis will involve development of a gel form of the polymers that may be utilized as a topical treatment for prohibiting sexual HIV transmission.
The findings will be published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.