Research shows importance of special treatment of patients with drug-resistant HIV 

01/03/2011 00:00 

New research into the effects of drug-resistant strains of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could help the initial treatment of millions of people around the world.     

Director of the UCLH/UCL CBRC, Professor Deenan Pillay

Director of the UCLH/UCL CBRC, Professor Deenan Pillay

Researchers at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and University College London (UCL) were among the collaborators in the European study. It found the initial treatment of people infected with drug resistant strains of the virus was three times more likely to fail than of those infected with non drug-resistant strains.

Using the right combination of antiretroviral drugs to treat drug resistant strains of the virus could reduce this rate of failure, the study suggested.

The study, which involved researchers from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) based at UCLH and University College London (UCL), included a cohort of 10,000 patients across Europe. By investigating the way in which patients controlled their HIV infection, researchers have been able to suggest which combinations of antiretroviral drugs would be best.  

The findings provide further evidence that full genetic testing of the viral strain before treatment starts is an important part of effective HIV treatment. In Europe and the US, where around 10-15% of patients are infected with drug-resistant strains of HIV, genetic testing of the strain is routine, but this is not yet the case in developing countries where drug resistance is likely to rise. 

Director of the UCLH/UCL CBRC, Professor Deenan Pillay, a senior author in the study, said: “The study has important implications for treatment around the world. It shows that we need to know which strain of the virus patients are infected with before we start treatment in order that we can give them the most beneficial combinations of retroviral drugs possible to prevent their treatment from failing.”

Click here for a full copy of the study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.  

A video of a talk given by Professor Pillay

About the NIHR CBRC:

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) was established in 2007 and is at the forefront of research into some of the major causes of illness and disease-related death.

The centre is one of five funded by the NIHR. The centre has focused on a range of advances in medical research that will have a direct impact on patients' care and quality of life, and will also save many lives. These include cancer, cardiac disease, infectious disease, women's health, oral health and neurological diseases such as epilepsy, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

The CBRC has:

16 research themes; invested over £100m in new translational research projects, staff, equipment and facilities, including the Clinical Research Facility at UCH; funded 136 consultants and recently launched new Centre for Nurse and Midwife led research.
In addition to the CBRC, UCL is the only UK university hosting two NIHR Specialist Biomedical Research Centres, formed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH) and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.


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