As the antiretroviral therapy turned out to be efficient, the patients that now have reached the old age start to feel the HIV drugs burden. The low functioning of the body in elderly people makes it difficult for them to cope with the adverse effects of the medicines.
More and more HIV patients live up to their 60s and 70s, and pharmaceutical companies are now working to develop new drugs that may be easier to be handled by aged people.
HIV medication is generally toxic not only for the virus but also for the rest of the body. The companies will try to find new drug recipes that will not cause harmful interactions with pills that are prescribed for diabetes, cholesterol, or blood pressure.
The statistics show that 36% of the HIV-positive adults in the developed countries are 50 years old or older. The percent had raised since the 2000s, as new and more efficient medication permitted people to survive what was once known as a deadly disease. Moreover, by 2020s the percentage will reach 70%.
HIV has been treated with combination therapies that have substantial side effects, such as loss of bone density and kidney damage.
GlaxoSmithKline is already working on a new treatment which would be less toxic. The new drug will be used along with Truvada, but the researchers state this will be the beginning of the two-drug regimens.
Should the tests prove to be successful, the company may capture half of the HIV drug market. The combination of only two drugs will translate into fewer chemicals inside the body and potentially a lower cost of medication.
On the other hand, Gilead got approval from FDA for an upgraded version of Truvada, which will have fewer side effects. The drug is called Tivicay and works on integrase inhibitors.
The companies have tried no less than 4,000 compounds, and a big part of them had to be dropped before reaching human trials. Tivicay came only in 2007 after the research team discovered a compound that worked in lab simulations and did not harm humans.
In 2009, the drug was presented in a AIDS conference in Cape Town, with incredible results: 70% of the patients had shown almost undetectable virus levels. FDA approved the drug in 2013.
There is still a long way to go from today’s HIV medicines to the two-drug regimens that GlaxoSmithKline is working on. The standard treatment today reaches five pills that have to be taken daily.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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