David Ho, one of the world's leading HIV/AIDS researchers and Time magazine's man of the year in 1996 for his work in developing protease inhibitors, said this week that a newly approved anti-HIV drug may be effective in treating Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Newsday reports. Ho and fellow researchers in New York and Hong Kong have discovered that the SARS virus enters human cells in much the same way that HIV penetrates immune system cells. Both HIV and the SARS virus use similar proteins on their outer coats that allow the viruses to attach to cells and slip through cellular membranes. Ho and his colleagues have developed an experimental SARS treatment based on the newly approved HIV fusion inhibitor Fuzeon that aims to prevent the virus from fusing to the cells, which would render it harmless.
"We just completed some important experiments in Hong Kong, and it worked beautifully," Ho said. The experimental compound was tested on SARS patients at the University of Hong Kong. Ho presented findings of the test to U.S. health officials this week. Additional tests are planned.