Treatment May Inhibit Cells' "Power Centers". (AIDS)

USA TODAY, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Treatment May Inhibit Cells' "Power Centers". (AIDS)


Companies that create HIV-AIDS drugs now have key information that could assist in making new medications with fewer side effects. Researchers Henry Weiner, a professor of biochemistry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., Steven Zollo of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Lauren Wood of the National Cancer Institute note the similarity between HIV-AIDS treatment side effects and diseases of the mitochondria, the "power centers" in cells, that affect the functioning of other parts of the cell. The researchers hypothesize that the drugs to combat HIV infection might inadvertently affect the functioning of the mitochondria.

"Finding that a drug affects a different target than the one it was designed for is not unusual," explains Weiner, an expert on protein processing in the mitochondria. The team speculates that current AIDS treatments using drugs that inhibit HIV proteins also could inhibit a key mitochondrial protein. This speculation fits the observation by doctors that side effects resembling mitochondrial dysfunction originated after new drugs became part of the standard drug "cocktail" used to treat AIDS patients. Highly active antiretroviral therapy has prolonged the lives of many, but has been associated with side effects such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and the development of fatty deposits as well. …

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