Lucky Number 53

Japanese plant used in synthetic compound to help fight HIV

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Chemical compounds from a Japanese plant are being harnessed and tested for their potential HIV-inhibiting powers, according to a study by the Scripps Research Institute.

With an estimated 33 million people living with HIV worldwide, novel new approaches to fighting this incurable disease are beginning to surface. A Japanese plant is the base of several new synthetic compounds created by the Scripps Research Institute with potential HIV-inhibiting abilities.

The plant produces chemical compounds that have displayed anti-HIV and anti-tumor effects. The chemical structures within the plant were then enhanced with the use of ultraviolet light. UV light reinforced the plant's important molecular bonds.

Using these adjusted chemical compounds, researchers began to form varying combinations and built a library of 50 different chemical analogs. They then tested these in a lab to assess their potential in inhibiting the replication of HIV antibodies. They also tested their anti-inflammatory effects.

One compound, "number 53," proved as potent if not more so than widely available anti-inflammatory products. However, in the area of HIV-inhibition, it proved somewhat similar but not as potent as the AIDS drug AZT.

"It's quite a promising lead," says K.C. Nicolaou, the lead researcher. Further studies will attempt to increase the number 53 compound's potency and prepare it for possible clinical drug trials.

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Review Date: 
January 19, 2011
Last Updated:
January 20, 2011