Friday, April 1, 2011

Birla Institute of Technology and Science Hyderabad campus: Hyderabad joins the international medical race for anti-HIV drug development

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 1: Hyderabad has joined the international medical race for development of drug to cure human immuno-deficiency virus with a team of city researchers taking up the challenge to produce a "non-peptidic small molecule" that prevents the killer virus from replicating in the human body.
The team from the department of pharmacy, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Hyderabad campus, has already carried out considerable research by contributing to the drug design and "other cutting edge activities" in the creation of this revolutionary anti-HIV drug.
The molecule designed by the BITS team is stable and effectively takes on HIV as well as TB simultaneously, besides boosting up the overall body immunity. The molecule has a template to target HIV protease and TB bacteria enzyme. It will reduce drug dosage and coinfection.
"We are working on non-peptidic small molecule that inhibits the HIV protease enzyme. This prevents the virus from replicating and producing daughter cells. Our molecule targets various stages of HIV life cycle to ensure that the virus is completely killed and the infected person cured. The uniqueness of our molecule is that it acts against both HIV and tuberculosis co-infection," said Prof P Yogeeswari, one of the researchers.
The anti-retroviral therapy now being given to HIV positive people is based on a peptidic molecule, which is unstable. This gives the virus advantage and the person infected has to take anti-retroviral therapy throughout his or her life. Since ART does not target co-infection, the person is subjected to a lot of drugs.
"Since our molecule is non-peptidic in nature, it is stable and inhibits the HIV protease enzyme. If the enzyme is inhibited, the virus stops from replication. Further damage to immune system can be stopped and full immunity is restored over a period of time," said Prof Sriram, the other researcher.
The team is collaborating with the research groups in Brazil and South Africa and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, India.
The BITS team has made computer designs of both the original virus and its mutants and this makes the task of updating the drug even if the virus mutates further.

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