Artorius Castus

FDA Approves Merck’s New HIV Drug

Posted in Uncategorized by Patrick Truax on October 15, 2007

Merck Says the FDA Approves the First of a New Class of HIV Drugs, Isentress

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) — Merck & Co. said Friday the Food and Drug Administration approved its Isentress twice-daily tablets as a treatment for patients who have strains of the HIV virus resistant to multiple antiretroviral drugs.

Isentress is the first of a new class of antiretroviral drugs called integrase inhibitors, which work to prevent the virus from inserting its DNA into human DNA, thereby stunting its ability to replicate and infect new cells.

Good news from Merck. I wonder if this process is similiar to that of Oconase, made by Alfacell, which inhibits RNA transcription. By inhibiting the RNA messaging, a cancer cell’s DNA’s instructions arent completed, thus killing the cell.

It appears both of these companies are approaching the problem from different angles. Think about this for a minute: Merck is finding a way to prevent the HIV virus’s nuclear material from invading the healthy cell’s nucleus, thus attaching itself to the healthy cell’s DNA with orders to reproduce the cell with HIV as part of the nuclear material. Oconase,(Alfacell) on the other hand, inhibits the mRNA or messenger RNA from transcribing the DNA’s blueprint. If the message doesnt get through, the cell fails to make the neccessary proteins and enzymes, and dies, thus killing the cancer cell.

Both of these endevours are mindboggling. Surrounding the membrane that houses the DNA to not allow a virus to hijack a host cell? Jacking around with a nuclear transcription process that prevents vital proteins and enzymes to be built? The times we live in! My wife and I were just discussing this, and concluded that the compound arrives at the NUCLEUS of an infected cell and surrounds it, thereby preventing replication when the cell attempts to divide. Thats ingenious! While both of us took Biology in college and did well, this type of bio-abstract thinking was beyond us. I would have approached the problem by finding a way for the HIV not to get into the cell at all. The membrane that surrounds a cell, the plasma membrane, is fairly permeable, it has to be-too many proteins and enzymes pass through the membrane that are vital both inside and outside the cell. I would have looked for a weakness in HIV to expolit and possibly prevent its passing through the phospholipid bi-layer that surrounds the celluar machinery. Some kind of coumpound that can work in between the bi-layers (its liquid) to prevent a certain part of the virus from passing through. Thus rendering the virus unable to hijack the celluar machinery to sustain itself. It would taken years and cost millions. These guys at Merck really had a good idea.

By allowing the virus in, but now allowing the nucleus to divide, prevents the infected cell from duplicating and passing on the HIV with each cell division. That is a brilliant idea, in my opinion. If this drug can really do that for HIV, why couldnt it do it for cancer cells? By surrounding the nuclear envelope with the compound, the HIV cant hijack the DNA, wouldnt it be the same for cancer? I dont know, but it sure is an intereting idea..


One Response

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  1. Patrick Truax said, on October 15, 2007 at 1:47 am

    Biology was one of my favorite classes in college..

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