Anti HIV Drug Test Trials Now Ongoing

November 12, 2012

Anti HIV Drug Test Trials Now Ongoing

Antiviral anti HIV drugs made out of genetically modified plants are currently being tested on women in England in order to determine their overall safety.

The MHRA, a medical licensing body in the UK, has already approved the human trials, which will be taking place at the University of Surrey’s clinical research center in Guildford.

How Did This Project Come into Fruition?

This project, also known as Pharma-Planta actually started seven years ago and its goal was to use genetically modified plants in order to make drugs – the kinds that are usually difficult and expensive to produce – more affordable. If successful, this means that poorer countries will be able to get easier access to effective modern medicines, as well. A lot of people still don’t believe that this is actually possible.

Believe it or not, developing world countries have very limited resources in terms of medicine. In fact, 23 million babies all over the world do not get the immunizations that they need because of this and this has led to 1.7 million children below five years old dying from diseases that could have otherwise been prevented with vaccines.

This is the main reason as to why this project came into fruition. The entire process used in this project is actually almost 100 times cheaper compared to traditional systems of production. Plus, not only would these medicines be affordable, but they would also be able to satisfy global demands in the medicinal world overall.

How Do These New Drugs Work?

Did you know that a lot of medicines out there are synthesized in fermentation vats with mammalian cells or bacteria in them? Well, although genetically modified, the plants that Pharma-Planta uses to produce their anti HIV drugs are safely grown in German greenhouse soil. After a month and a half, the plants are then harvested and their leaves are shredded to extract the highly purified antibodies as needed. Plus, there is hardly any risk of these plants contaminating or spreading other crops since they are highly contained and will not be grown on an agricultural level.

Who Will be Tested?

11 healthy female volunteers from the UK will be taking part in the actual trial. So far, 2 of the women have already received the antibodies, while another woman has received a placebo. Overall, this trial only exists to demonstrate how safe the antibodies are at different types of dosages, though. Naturally, bigger trials will need to be done on women who are at high risk of getting HIV in order to find out if the drugs can actually be deemed as anti HIV drugs. If this current trial proves to be effective, these anti HIV drugs will need to be combined with various other antibodies afterwards in order to reduce the odds of them having become resistant.

Will The Drugs Really Prevent HIV?

The developers of these anti HIV drugs truly hope that they will be effective at preventing the HIV virus. However, the actual breakthrough of these drugs lies in their production of similar molecules in plants that can be used in humans, but with the same quality and at a much more affordable price overall.

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