The official lecture is that since the advent of ARV combination therapies to keep HIV under control, by now twenty years ago, AIDS disappeared and made place for a no longer life threatening but lifelong “HIV management”. The general idea is that HAART regimens are efficient and relatively comfortable for the patients and the main focus of the HIV battle has now shifted towards Africa, where low diagnosis, treatment and compliance rates are still enormous issues.
During AIDS2018 in Amsterdam we did however also hear completely different stories and these came from the actual HIV patient communities who were present during the congress. Many patients visited our booth and as such we had the possibility to learn from their real life stories with HIV and AIDS. And yes, unfortunately we spoke to several people that actually suffered from AIDS related symptoms despite having been on HAART regimes for the last decades. Some of these patients had become completely irresponsive to antiretroviral drugs and used experimental salvage therapies in order to keep the virus under control.
Several american AIDS activists argue that about 50% of the North American HIV population has failed more than three ARV regimens and 30% is on salvage therapy. With this being a growing trend, it should be clear that the diminishing treatment options against HIV infection are worrisome to say the least. All current ART medications target viral proteins and as such all of them are susceptible to resistance development, which is clearly already happening on a very large scale. Drug resistance is nothing new. It is all around us. Abuse of antibiotics has created highly resistant strains of tuberculosis, an illness that was thought to belong to the past and if ART resistance development continues, AIDS will be back.
It was this information that made it very clear to us that there is an immediate medical need for our HIV translation inhibitors and we immediately decided to speed up the clinical development program of our lead compounds. Considering the fact that our RNA Helicase inhibiting compounds are equally active against all tested ART resistant HIV strains we have the potential to offer new treatment options to all patients that are currently failing ARV regimens.
We are very proud that we are fully supported in our efforts by the American AIDS activist community and will continue to closely collaborate with HIV patient groups worldwide.