Saturday, March 20, 2010

Minocycline Acne Drug Prevents AIDS

Minocycline, an antibiotic drug used to treat acne, has been found by Johns Hopkins researchers to prevent progression of HIV into full blown AIDS. Treatment of HIV that uses antiviral therapy can keep HIV dormant. Minocycline acts directly on T cells, targeting the immune system. Minocycline prevents AIDS because it keeps the HIV virus dormant via a different pathway than Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART).

The researchers found that Minocycline had benefits for macaques infected with SIV (the primate equivalent of HIV), and also had anti-inflammatory properties on T cells, making the acne drug beneficial for early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Gregory Szeto, a graduate student in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine working in the Retrovirus Laboratory at Hopkins says, “Since minocycline reduced T cell activation, you might think it would have impaired the immune systems in the macaques, which are very similar to humans, but we didn’t see any deleterious effect. This drug strikes a good balance and is ideal for HIV because it targets very specific aspects of immune activation.”

“The powerful advantage to using minocycline is that the virus appears less able to develop drug resistance because minocycline targets cellular pathways not viral proteins,” says Janice Clements, Ph.D., Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Faculty Affairs, vice dean for faculty, and professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In order for AIDS to develop from HIV infection, T cells must activate and reproduce. Minocycline stops that process and prevents AIDS, found in laboratory testing of human cells. The findings that minocycline can keep HIV dormant means researchers could also find other drugs that target the same pathways, leading to promising new treatments for HIV that can also prevent AIDS.

Johns Hopkins