Drug blocks AIDS without toxicity, company reports

December 07, 1990

A pharmaceutical firm has reported that in laboratory experiments a new anti-viral compound was able to keep the AIDS virus from reproducing without the toxic effects of drugs now in use.

The compound, called BI-RG-587, was developed by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. and will be placed into human clinical trials next year, said Vincent J. Merluzzi, a company scientist.

In a report to be published today in the journal Science, Mr. Merluzzi said the compound works by blocking a key enzyme in the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which causes AIDS.

The experimental compound appears in laboratory tests to not have some of the toxic effects that have created problems for AZT, or zidovudine, the only anti-viral drug now approved for use against AIDS. Long-term use of AZT has been shown in some patients to lead to damage of the kidneys or liver.

"It is structurally different than AZT," said Mr. Merluzzi. "We don't expect it will have the same side effects."

Toxicity of BI-RG-587 will be among the effects tested in clinical trials that are expected to begin early in 1991, he said.

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