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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of the R&D news in brief

Positive results for Merck HIV treatment
Results from an ongoing phase II study suggest that Merck & Co's experimental HIV drug, MK-0518, in combination with Gilead's Viread (tenofovir) and GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Epivir (lamivudine), showed comparable viral load reduction to Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sustiva. In the study, which involved 198 treatment-naive patients with HIV, patients were randomised to receive one of several dosages of MK-0518 twice-daily in combination with Viread plus Epivir, or Sustiva once-daily plus Viread and Epivir. ìThis early study showed a rapid and significant reduction in viral load up to 24 weeks with MK-0518 in treatment-naive patients,î said lead investigator, Martin Markowitz at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. ìThis study should lend further insight into the potential of HIV integrase inhibitors as a new and exciting class of antiretroviral agents.î

Protein clue for asthma attacks
People with asthma suffering from colds are more likely to have a severe attack due to low levels of proteins which should act as lung cells' first line of defence, according to new research. A team of scientists from Imperial College and the Medical Research Council centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, tested lung cells from people with and without asthma. It was found that when the people with asthma were infected with a common cold virus, a rhinovirus, their lung cells produced half the usual levels of a type of interferon with antiviral properties generated by the immune system. The researchers, writing in Nature Medicine, said boosting levels of these proteins could protect people with asthma from having an attack because of a cold.

30th September 2008

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