Researchers at an Annapolis, Md.-based company have created compounds that may be able to block HIV infection and at the same time keep the body from sabotaging its own immune response, according to early-stage research unveiled Friday. Officials from Mymetics Corp., presenting research data at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, said test tube studies show that one of its experimental peptide compounds is seven times as potent as the most potent fusion inhibitor currently in development.
The compounds not only block HIV infection but disrupt a process called "molecular mimicry," which HIV uses to turn on or off key cellular proteins, ultimately resulting in the erosion of the immune system. Mymetics chief executive officer Peter McCann said that the work is still in the early stages and that tests of the compounds have not yet been conducted in animals or humans. He hopes human trials are only two years away. Animal tests will begin by next summer.