A new set of researchers are locking on two drugs which can kill HIV on infected host cells by inducing cell death. Both drugs are also approved for human use in Europe and the United States which makes further developments faster and cost-effective.
Antifungal Drug as Anti-HIV?
Researchers at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School have proven efficacy of Ciclopirox, an antifungal drug, in inhibiting HIV gene expression. Under lab settings, Ciclopirox blocks certain important functions of HIV-infected cells and then initiates death by reactivating apoptosis. After removal of Ciclopirox on lab cultures, researchers have found that there was no HIV re-occurrence.
In addition to Ciclopirox, they have also found Deferiprone, a drug used to treat beta-thallasaemia major, capable of causing the same effect on HIV-infected cells. Luckily, both drugs are approved for human use in Europe and the United States which means drug development is quicker and cost-effective compared to those drugs that have to undergo clinical trials and animal studies to get similar approval.
How the Mechanism Works?
Both Ciclopirox and Deferiprone can cause apoptosis or programmed cell death or triggered suicide but drug-induced in cellular level. HIV-infected host cells under lab settings exposed to both drugs commit suicide which paralyses virus function and replication. Programmed cell death is disabled once HIV enters the host cell to fuel and replicated itself.
According to the researchers, there are two ways how drugs work against the virus in cellular level. These are as follows:
1. Inhibition of gene expression of HIV which is required for the virus to adapt and replicate and
2. Jamming the mitochondria or power supply inside cells, which interrupts all energy sources HIV needs to multiply and survive.
Under these circumstances, drug-induced apoptosis sever HIV replication, multiplication and survival inside host cells and may even lead to systemic elimination, a cure we may hope for.
Since Ciclopirox and Deferiprone are approved by respective drug administrators in Europe and the United States, there is a good chance for faster, quicker and less expensive research and development for an anti-HIV drug version.
Furthermore, early studies on Ciclopirox and Deferiprone versus HIV showed inhibitions of gene expressions only, but the recent study reveals drug-induced apoptosis via mitochondria in cells to reactivate programmed cell death.
However, the research team must first make a systemic drug variant of Cicloporix since the approved version is an antifungal cream. But having promising results can pave way for upcoming effective HIV treatments which are tolerated by humans unlike antiretroviral drugs that cause multiple adverse effects.