HIV research and treatments have evolved leaps and bounds in the past decades but researchers continue to dedicate time and resources to helping increase both quality of life and life expectancy for those who contract the virus. Researchers have recently developed an experimental drug derived from deer tick salvia that could significantly decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Individuals with HIV develop a higher risk of both neurological and cardiovascular medical issues because the immunodeficiency virus causes higher levels of monocytes, a type of white blood cell. These cells directly influence the “tissue factor” (TF) protein, which triggers blood clotting and dangerous inflammation – even when an individual is controlling their HIV virus rigorously by antiretrovirals.
The scientists have developed an experimental drug called Ixolaris which contains extracts from saliva of a type of ticks found on deer. It was first tested on monkeys who had been infected with SIV, the primate equivalent of human HIV virus. They discovered that those treated with Ixolaris showed a significant decrease of inflammation in the blood cells and thus, decreasing the development of heart complications.
The testing continued with human blood samples from three groups, blood samples from two different groups of humans with the HIV infection and one healthy group blood sample. The findings were published in Science Translational Medicine. They revealed that of the blood sample with HIV that received the antiretroviral medication, the TF protein activity was successfully blocked. Although the testing was conducted on blood samples, the results indicate that the skyrocketing increase of risk of heart disease as a result of contracting HIV could be reduced. The next step will undoubtedly be taking the necessary steps towards preparing the research for human testing.
FierceBiotech published a recent statement from Ivona Pandrea, M.D., Ph.D. a professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research about the groundbreaking findings. “People are living long, fruitful lives with HIV thanks to tremendous strides in antiviral treatment regimes; however those lives are being cut short due to perplexingly high rates of heart disease.”