Pfizer Developing New AIDS Drug Targeting CCR5 Receptor
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is currently developing a drug that is designed to block the HIV receptor CCR5, Reuters reports. Researchers have noted in the past that people who lack the CCR5 receptor do not become infected with HIV, even after repeated exposure to the virus, because the virus cannot invade the body's cells. By blocking the CCR5 receptor, Pfizer's new drug -- called UK-427,857 -- could potentially inhibit or prevent HIV infection. John LaMattina, executive vice president and president of worldwide research for Pfizer, said, "It is a top priority for us. We are doing all we can to move this through quickly." He added that the drug has been shown to be up to 30 times more potent than protease inhibitors in laboratory tests. LaMattina said that the drug fared well in early Phase I clinical trials, adding, "We are getting good blood levels of the compound which tells us we are getting enough material in the bloodstream to give us the levels that we think will be necessary to be therapeutic." Pfizer is considering developing the drug for people at high risk for HIV infection and for individuals who are already infected with the virus. The drug may begin Phase II trials next year, but it will take years before all necessary safety and efficacy tests are completed for the drug to receive marketing approval (Woodman, Reuters, 5/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.