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Peptide T: future AIDS treatment?

Peptide T: Future AIDS treatment?

Scientists in Sweden and the United States are in variousstages of preliminary human trials to test whether a small protein that stops the AIDS virus from entering cells will be helpful in treating patients with the disease. The protein, called peptide T, is a short segment found in the envelope of the AIDS-causing virus (SN: 12/20&27/86, p.388).

In Sweden, four patients with advanced AIDS were firstinjected with the protein last fall. One particularly ill patient, who requested withdrawal from the program, died, but the remaining patients are doing well, says Lennart Wetterberg of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He reported that no toxic side effects have been observed, and weekly treatments are sufficient to maintain improved health. This contrasts with the drug azidothymidine (AZT) recently approved for AIDS patients in the United States, which requires daily doses and produces serious side effects like anemia in some users. Wetterberg says be does not know why the protein causes such dramatic improvement, causing pneumonia and skin lesions in the three AIDS patients to regress. Refusing to speculate on whether peptide T will prove to be a general treatment for AIDS, Wetterberg says case-control human trials must be completed before efficacy of the drug is known. The Swedish group has just started such a study in 36 patients: Half are being given peptide T, and the remainder, a placebo. Wetterberg predicts results will be available within a year.

Preliminary human trials of a synthetic peptide T made atthe National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., recently were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Testing is expected to begin within several weeks, and NIMH official said last week.
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Author:Edwards, Diane D.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 13, 1987
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