Stephen Hughes: Inside the War Room Against Drug-Resistant HIV

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DRP Conference, October 13, 2021
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Stephen Hughes: Inside the War Room Against Drug-Resistant HIV

[The following excerpt is from the article "Inside the War Room Against Drug-Resistant HIV," published by Samuel Lopez in the NCI at Frederick Poster, 8 September 2020.]

Steve Hughes, Ph.D., compares HIV research to a war. He and his colleagues are entrenched on a microscopic battlefield, fighting a conflict where seemingly small victories could mean a leap forward.

Right now, they are grappling with the emergence of HIV strains resistant to existing antiretroviral drugs, medicines that suppress the virus in people living with HIV. The team’s current target is integrase, an enzyme that HIV uses to insert a DNA copy of its genetic information into the DNA of a host cell, thereby allowing the virus to replicate and spread.

HIV research and treatment have come far in the four decades since the virus was discovered. Today, most infections can be managed by therapies that use a combination of state-of-the-art antiretroviral drugs. But mutated strains that resist even the best HIV drugs can arise. Developing treatments for them is an ongoing battle in a long war.

“There are some mutants that are a problem, and the ones that are really bad are a problem for everybody,” said Hughes, chief of the Retroviral Replication Laboratory and senior investigator in the HIV Dynamics and Replication Program at NCI at Frederick.  [More]