Israeli scientists at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University announced this week that have developed a new drug that includes a protein that can make HIV cells “self-destruct” without harming the body, according to numerous sources.
Professors Abraham Loyter and Assaf Friedler developed the new drug, Gammora, which is currently being tested at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, according to the Times of Israel.
The drug was inserted into test tubes containing the blood of 10 AIDS patients currently being treated at the hospital, and was found to decrease the HIV virus count in the blood samples by as much as 97 percent in just eight days.
Prof. Zev Sthoeger, head of internal medicine department A at Kaplan Medical Center, explained to TheMediaLine.org how Gammora works:
When a person is exposed to HIV the virus immediately attacks the immune system by destroying infection-fighting CD4 cells. Unlike other viruses which integrate several copies of themselves into one cell, HIV only incorporates one or two copies of itself into the CD4 cells, allowing the virus to take over that cell and use it as a factory of sorts to create more HIV.
Sthoeger said Gammora essentially forces multiple copies of the HIV DNA to enter the infected cell, causing the cell to go into overdrive and basically “commit suicide.”
“Because the virus uses the machinery of the cell, each infected cell is a factory for many viruses,” Sthoeger said. “And, if we kill the infected cells, maybe we can do more than the current medications.”
Current HIV medications can suppress the virus but not eradicate it. Sthoeger said Gammora provides the possibility of completely ridding a once-HIV positive patient from the virus for good — something that has never been done before.
Loyter explained that with Gammora, “We are destroying the cells, so there is no chance that the virus will awaken one day, because there are no cells, there will be no cells that contain the virus.”
He added that “the drug enhances certain processes in the body during the spreading of the virus and that enhancement kills certain cells.”
Loyter and Friedler are working with the Zion Pharmaceutical Company to develop the new drug.