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A small clinical trial of Panacos Pharmaceuticals' experimental HIV maturation inhibitor PA-457 showed the drug lowers HIV viral loads by as much as 90%, the Boston Herald reports. The drug works by blocking the formation of a key protein HIV uses to assemble its outer coating. Without the protein, the viral copies released from infected immune system cells are unable to infect other cells in the body. Because the drug targets a different stage in HIV's replication cycle than existing antiretroviral treatments, it is effective against virus that has become resistant to currently available anti-HIV medications, researchers say. Panacos officials say they hope to launch final Phase III trials of the drug by early 2007 with the goal of having it on the market by 2008.