IIT-M researchers working on effective drugs against HIV/AIDS

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Chennai, Feb 18(PTI): Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, are engaged in developing a new idea that can pave the way for effective treatment of HIV/AIDS, a senior professor said on Thursday. The research team, led by a professor in the Department of Biotechnology Sanjib Senapati, has shown that by introducing electrostatic interaction sites, potential drug molecules can enhance the efficacy of the anti-viral drug against the HIV virus.

'The pressing need for better drugs to combat drug- resistant HIV strains led the researchers to delve into the molecular structure of the protease to identify weak sites that can offer a handle for better inhibitor development,' a release from IIT-Madras said here.

Drug designers have aimed at developing efficient inhibitors of the enzyme-inhibitors are molecules that bind with the enzyme thereby making it unavailable to the virus for growth and maturation.

'Current inhibitors that target HIV-1 protease (HIVPR) make use of the weak forces of attraction to attach themselves to the protease molecule. Given that these forces are weak, the efficacy of the drug is variable and the virus will soon become resistant to them,' Senapati said.

By using the state-of-the-art computational techniques, the team uncovered vital data that can be used for design of more efficacious drugs.

Senapati said current drugs lack electrostatic complementarity and it must be investigated because it is well-known that electrostatic forces between molecules were stronger.

The team believes that the compounds would be effective against both wild type and resistant HIV variants.

The idea would offer a whole new approach to the development of drugs for HIV-AIDS, the release said.