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AGGRESSIVE HIV STRAIN MAY CAUSE DISEASE PROGRESSION

 AGGRESSIVE HIV STRAIN MAY CAUSE DISEASE PROGRESSION
 WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A particularly aggressive viral


strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or resistance to zidovudine (AZT) may be key factors in why some patients advance in their disease despite therapy with AZT, according to findings to be announced July 23 by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Burroughs Wellcome Company.
 The findings will be presented at the Eighth Annual International Conference on AIDS in Amsterdam.
 According to Dr. John Hamilton, chief of the Infectious Disease Division at the Durham (N.C.) VA Medical Center, and professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, at Duke University, the study was designed to look at the consequences of the development of resistance to AZT.
 "We found that, in the mildly symptomatic patients included in our analysis, resistance to AZT did develop and was associated with progression of HIV infection. But, we found an even stronger association between HIV progression and the presence of a particular variety of HIV called syncytium-inducing (SI) phenotype," said Dr. Marty St. Clair, senior research virologist with Burroughs Wellcome, who will present the results in Amsterdam.
 "The development of resistance to AZT has long been recognized as a possible limitation of its usefulness," said Hamilton. "Our study suggests that AZT resistance alone may not be sufficient for progression of the disease, but that the presence of the SI phenotype may be."
 AZT has previously been shown to delay progression of AIDS in mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and to prolong survival in patients with advanced HIV infection, including AIDS.
 In this cooperative effort, Burroughs Wellcome performed the laboratory tests on viral specimens collected over a three-year period on patients in the VA Cooperative Study, a study that compared early with late AZT treatment in mildly symptomatic patients.
 From that study's population of 338 patients, 17 patients whose disease was known to have progressed were matched in a case-control study with 17 patients whose disease had not progressed.
 The researchers then compared the impact of antiviral resistance and the role of the SI phenotype on the clinical course of these patients. In six out of 17 pairs, those whose disease had progressed had significantly more resistance to AZT than did other patients. In 16 out of 17 pairs, those whose disease had progressed had the SI phenotype, and the patients whose disease had progressed did not.
 In speaking of the importance of this research, Hamilton said, "These findings shed new light on the development of resistance to AZT and will help focus future AIDS research efforts."
 -0- 7/21/92
 /CONTACT: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public Affairs, 202-535-8300/ CO: Department of Veterans Affairs; Burroughs Wellcome Company ST: District of Columbia; North Carolina IN: MTC SU:


SM -- NYHFNS11 -- 1014 07/21/92 07:07 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1992
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