An Israeli biotech company specializing in HIV and cancer treatments has finally released the results of its first clinical trial of its HIV-drug Gammora and the news is bringing renewed hope to the many affected by this devastating retrovirus. The novel drug has been found to eliminate up to 99% of the HIV virus within four weeks of treatment.
Integrases triggering apoptosis
The firm is called Zion Medical and Gammora is an innovative treatment consisting of a synthetic peptide compound derived from the HIV-derived integrase. Integrases are enzymes produced by retroviruses, such as HIV, that enable their genetic material to be integrated into the DNA of the infected cell.
Taking advantage of this process, Gammora stimulates the integration of multiple HIV DNA fragments into the host cell’s genomic DNA. This then essentially triggers the infected cell's apoptosis or self-destruction.
“These first clinical results were beyond our expectations and promise hope in finding a cure for a disease that’s been discovered over 35 years,” said in a statement Dr. Esmira Naftali, head of development at Zion Medical. “Given the limited nature of this study, we are excited to prove the efficiency of our drug in Phase 2b with a greater number of participants over a longer period of time."
Should this phase prove equally successful its effects would be literally life-altering. Today, current commercially available HIV retroviral treatments work by suppressing the spread of the virus but do not offer any cure for the infection.
As such, HIV patients can only hope for an improved lifespan, not a true respite. Zion Medical's peptide, however, has the potential to destroy all cells carrying the HIV virus-genome offering a real cure for infected patients.
Zion Medical's Phase 1/2a Gammora human clinical trial found that most patients showed a significant reduction of the viral load of up to 90% from the baseline during the first four weeks. In Part II of the study, Gammora was further combined with additional retroviral treatments which led to patients demonstrating up to 99% reduction in viral load from baseline within four weeks.
In addition, throughout the entire 10 weeks of tests, Gammora was found to be safe and well-tolerable. In fact, no side effects whatsoever were reported.
Boosting CD4 cell count
Furthermore, Gammora was found to boost patient CD4 cell count – up to 97% from the baseline. CD4 cells, also referred to a T cells or T helper cells, are the cells that the HIV virus kills. They are white blood cells that play a key role in the human immune system, the body's natural defense system against pathogens, infections, and illnesses.
As HIV infections progress, CD4 cells significantly decline. A person will be diagnosed with AIDS when their numbers drop below 200 and will then be considered at high risk of developing serious illnesses. For reference, a healthy individual's normal range for CD4 cells is about 500-1,500.
The positive news caused quite some frenzy leading Zion Medical to explain that the firm still has a long way before a cure can be assured but that it has gotten a step closer. The company also revealed that their peer-reviewed research should be made available in 2019.
We want to thank everyone for their interest in the promising results of our first clinical trial. Like you, we are hopeful that #Gammora may one day offer those affected by #HIV a viable path to ridding themselves of infection. Much work remains in this mission… 1/2— ZionMedical (@Zion_Medical) November 6, 2018