Promising results of a new HIV drug has raised the prospect of an effective new treatment against the deadly disease in which the immune system begins to fail.
The drug 'raltegravir' was given for about 10 years to at least 178 patients with advanced HIV who were not responding to regular anti-retroviral HIV drugs.
The amount of HIV genetic material (RNA) in the blood of the patients was measured after 24 weeks of treatment with their usual HIV drugs plus either raltegravir or a dummy drug.
Patients taking raltegravir had an average of 98 percent drop in their HIV RNA count, compared to just 45 percent drop in the placebo group.
The number of CD4 cells, which give an indication of the immune response, were also significantly boosted in patients taking raltegravir. And the drug was well tolerated by most patients.
"This drug has the potential to become an important component of combination treatment regimens... for patients failing current therapies with multi-drug-resistant virus and limited treatment options," study authors led by Bach-Yen Nguyen of Merck Research Laboratories in Pennsylvania said.
The researchers are hopeful that the new family of drugs will get round the problem of treatment-resistant HIV strains, reported the online edition of BBC News.