Parker Hughes Engineers Anti-Viral Agent Against HIV

ROSEVILLE, Minn. -- Scientists at Parker Hughes Cancer Center have designed and engineered a broad-spectrum recombinant anti-viral agent that is active against HIV. In a study to be published in the April issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Parker Hughes Scientists report that PAP (recombinant pokeweed anti-viral proteins) show potent activity against HIV, including HIV strains resistant to major anti-HIV drugs.

There are an estimated 363,000 persons living with AIDS in the United States. Of those being treated with anti-HIV drugs some 80 percent will eventually develop drug resistance. For that reason scientists are working to develop agents that are effective against drug resistant strains of HIV.

"We are cautiously optimistic that pokeweed antiviral proteins will provide the basis for salvage therapies for patients harboring highly drug resistant strains of HIV," said Fatih Uckun, MD, PhD, medical director of Parker Hughes Cancer Center. "Our goal is to provide hope to AIDS patients who find their hope is running out as they become resistant to currently available therapies."

Engineered non-toxic PAP may prove to be an effective vaccine against certain biological weapons. This is because a portion of PAP shares unique similarities to ricin, an exceptionally powerful toxin that is a much-feared potential agent of biological warfare. Scientists theorize that vaccinating people with PAP might result in the deployment of antibodies that would protect the body against ricin.

"There is still much work to be done but PAP may prove to be the basis for an effective vaccine against ricin," Uckun said.

Reference: Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2003 Mar;47(3):1052-61. Structure-based design and engineering of a nontoxic recombinant pokeweed antiviral protein with potent anti-human immunodeficiency virus activity. Uckun FM, Rajamohan F, Pendergrass S, Ozer Z, Waurzyniak B, Mao C.

Source: Parker Hughes Cancer Center