News / Africa

Math May Determine Best HIV Drug Combinations

Patient, who is suffering from AIDS, lies on a bed at the state hospital in Congo's capital of Kinshasa, October 2006. Researchers hope new mathematical formula will allow doctors to use the best combinations of antiretroviral drugs for treatment. (file p
Patient, who is suffering from AIDS, lies on a bed at the state hospital in Congo's capital of Kinshasa, October 2006. Researchers hope new mathematical formula will allow doctors to use the best combinations of antiretroviral drugs for treatment. (file p
Joe DeCapua

Treating people infected with the AIDS virus involves using a combination of antiretroviral drugs. But some combinations work better than others. Now, a mathematical formula has been developed that may eventually help doctors decide which drugs to use.

Prescribing a cocktail of drugs has become the gold standard in preventing HIV from replicating. It’s called HAART, which stands for highly active antiretroviral therapy. The cocktail combinations may be changed periodically to prevent the virus from building up resistance.

The new math

The new mathematical formula is based on a 5-year analysis of how the drugs keep HIV in check.

Dr. Robert Siliciano, Profess of medicine, Johns Hopkins
Dr. Robert Siliciano, Profess of medicine, Johns Hopkins

Dr. Robert Siliciano, senior study investigator and a specialist in infectious disease, said, “I’ve always been interested in why some combinations of HIV drugs work well and some don’t. Most of the progress in the HIV treatment field in terms of deciding which treatments should be used in patients has been based on empirical studies – trial and error clinical trials – in which different combinations are tested against each other. And you look at how many patients after one year of treatment have (an) undetectable level of virus.”

Siliciano is a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

“There hasn’t been a lot of theoretical basis of why some combinations should work better than others. [With] what we know about how the virus replicates, it should be possible at least to predict some aspects of treatment outcome, specifically how well the drugs actually inhibit the virus,” he said.

What works, what doesn’t

The study analyzed how well individual drugs and drug combinations inhibit infection. Researchers then fed that data into computers and applied their mathematical formula.

“The standard way to do this is to look at the amount of drug that gives you 50 percent inhibition. That turns out to be a very poor way of doing it because at least some of the drugs are actually extremely good and they cause way, way more than 50 percent inhibition,” he said.

In fact, some drugs are more than 99 percent effective in inhibiting HIV from replicating. Those are the antiretrovirals included in the study.

“Because the virus replicates exponentially,” said Siliciano, “it can increase very, very quickly, and so that’s why you need that extremely high level of inhibition.”

Siliciano and his fellow researchers used 19 drugs and came up with well over 800 treatment combinations. He said while more study of the mathematical formula is needed, he foresees two uses. The first, of course, is treatment.

“Actually most of the people who have HIV infection are not on treatment right now. And treatments are not available in many areas. And the treatments are very costly and complicated. So if you really understand how well individual drugs and drug combinations work, it may be possible to figure out what is the simplest treatment that would be effective and that could be made more widely available,” he said.

The formula could also help prevent drug resistance.

“Resistance is a very big problem when people either don’t get an adequate supply of drugs or don’t take the drugs correctly. Resistance can develop very easily. And the current ways of evaluating what to do for patients who have resistance need to be improved and this mathematical analysis I think gives us a way to do that,” he said.

He said the next focus will be to come up with a drug regimen against which HIV is unable to develop any resistance.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs