The compound is known as INK128 works against both cancer and HIV-1 because of its mode of action. INK128 is able to inhibit protein, mTOR, which regulates the transcription of genes.
Researchers believe that in the case of HIV, INK128 acts in part by blocking the transcription of a surface receptor, CCR5, which the virus latches onto to enter immune cells. They additionally believe that INK128 also prevents the transcription of HIV genes after the virus inserts them into the immune cells. These findings assert that INK128 is the first compound to deter HIV in this way.
Researchers engineered mice to produce human immune cells and infected the animals with HIV. When the mice were exposed to INK128, they had lower virus counts and improved cell concentrations.
Older HIV drugs inhibit proteins carried by the virus itself, but new approaches target proteins that belong to the infected immune cell.
Researchers are attracted to cellular drug targets such as mTOR because they mutate less frequently than viral proteins.
Fewer mutations mean a lower likelihood of drug resistance.
INK128 and other mTOR inhibitors are being used or investigated as cancer drugs. Therefore, the new agent may also benefit patients with both HIV and cancer. These two illnesses are difficult to treat together, because of drug interactions, however they tend to occur together for reasons still unknown.