Because of unwanted results, research on new HIV medication is suspended
Scientific teams that were experimenting with islatavir, a unique type of medication because of its mechanism of action, and which had been seen as very promising at the beginning of 2021, had to stop their research due to undesired effects detected amongst participants.
Islatavir has a two-phase effect from one of the enzymes contained in HIV (known as reverse transcriptase), which has also shown to have great strength and a prolonged lifespan in the organism.
Because of these features, the drug was being tested in two ways, one to treat the HIV infection and another as a preventive treatment, meaning, to keep someone who doesn’t have HIV from getting it, different presentations were also being researched.
On December 13, the pharmaceutical company Merck announced through a press release that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended all studies with islatavir: in pill form and in implant form to be used as a preventive treatment, an injectable formula that would work to treat or prevent HIV, and a combination with the drug doravirine that would treat HIV with one pill a day.
The FDA stopped the research, because a decrease in certain cells of the immune system, which are, total lymphocytes and CD4 T lymphocytes, was recorded in people who were receiving islatavir within the studies.
In November, the drug company had announced the suspension of another study, which tested the combination of islatavir plus another drug (called MK-8507) as a once-a-day oral treatment. On December 6, one more trial run had to stop the recruitment of volunteers to test the oral preventive treatment with islatavir that would be used only once a month.
Ever since the suspension, Merck must follow up on the patients who saw their lymphocyte levels reduced until they recover.
Although much remains to be discovered, the antiretroviral treatments that currently exist are safe and effective. If you want to know more about how to start or resume your treatment, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can help you. Find our closest office in your country or write to us on WhatsApp.