In March 2020, the 28th annual Conference on Retroviruses and Oportunistic Infections (CROI) was held virtually. HIV is in the family of Retroviruses and this conference has long been considered the top research meeting for presenting cutting-edge research in HIV Science, Clinical research and Epidemiology.
It also presents important research on Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other infections. This article and the next series will present some updates from the conference that you might find interesting.
Lenacapravir is a truly remarkable drug for many reasons. The first feature is that this drug works in a totally new way, different from all the many other HIV drugs.
Lenacapravir is the first drug in a class called capsid inhibitors. Capsid is a very important protein for HIV replication. These capsid proteins are linked together to form a pouch that stores and protects the HIV virus’s genetic material. When the virus infect a cell, the capsid protein must unravel to release the genetic material in order to make new viruses.
Lenacapravir can bind to the capsid protein and prevent it from unraveling and releasing the virus’s genetic material. The virus is, therefore, unable to make more viruses. Also, the binding of Lenacapravir to capsid protein prevents new viruses from being assembled and spreading to infect more of our white blood cells.
This double action effect of Lenacapravir makes it a potent drug in suppressing HIV that works even better when combined with other HIV drugs.
Because Lenacapravir works a new way, it is a very important drug.
While it could work effectively for any patient, there are some patients who have been infected for many years, even decades and there are very few drugs available that they can be treated with. So, this feature of the drug led to a special clinical trial using Lenacapravir that was presented at CROI.