Beijing: A new anti-HIV drug developed by Chinese scientists has been licensed for clinical testing, state media reported on 17 April.
Nifeviroc, which works by inhibiting CCR5, a protein that commonly exists on the surface of human immune cells, is set to become China’s first entry-inhibitor for HIV treatment, the China Daily said.
“The CCR5 protein provides a medium through which the HIV virus can infect healthy cells,” said Ma Dawei, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry involved in the drug’s development, according to the report.
“By deactivating the protein, the virus can be stopped before it enters the cell,” Ma said.
The report said early tests have indicated that Nifeviroc, which is taken orally, has promising anti-virus capabilities and few side effects. Therefore, hopes are high that it can provide an effective barrier against the HIV virus.
But scientists said it will be a further three to five years before the drug is ready to be put into clinical use.
An American company is currently involved in the third-phase clinical testing of a drug with a similar mechanism to Nifeviroc and which is expected to become the world’s first oral HIV entry-inhibitor, the report added.