New AIDS drug shields monkeys: study

The prototype eCD4-Ig drug was tested on macaque monkeys, like these pictured in MalaysiaScientists said Wednesday a new drug tested on monkeys provided an astonishingly effective shield against an animal version of the AIDS virus, a major gain in the quest for an HIV vaccine. Macaque monkeys given the drug were able to fend off high repeated doses of the simian version of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they reported in the journal Nature. "We… show a way to achieve long-lived, effective, vaccine-like protection from HIV 1," the main group of viral strains in humans, said study leader Michael Farzan, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida. The prototype drug, called eCD4-Ig, comprises two imitations of the receptors, or docking points, where HIV latches on to CD4 cells — the key defences of the immune cells.

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