Biotron’s (ASX: BIT) lead candidate HIV-1 drug BIT225 has been shown to boost the body’s immune response to HIV by inhibiting viral protein Vpu, while also having an anti-viral effect.
The company is presenting new data on BIT225’s positive impact on the body’s immune response against HIV this week at the 23rd International AIDS Conference.
Biotron’s previously reported phase 2 clinical trial using BIT225 had demonstrated both safety and tolerability.
Viral suppression was also seen in those treated with standard anti-HIV drugs alone and combined with BIT225.
Biotron added the patients treated with BIT225 also showed “statistically significant changes” in key immune cell populations.
“The latest results provide key information on how BIT225 directly modifies immune responses to HIV-1 infection,” Biotron managing director Dr Michelle Miller explained.
“It helps explain the immune changes that we saw in the phase 2 clinical trial and gives us even more confidence in our product,” Dr Miller added.
BIT225 boosts immune response
According to Biotron, during HIV-1 infection specific cell markers that normally tell the immune system to attack the virus are downregulated.
The downregulation allows the virus to evade the immune response and persist.
New data on BIT225, shows the drug restores these cell markers to normal and helps boost T cells in moving around the body and restoring immune function.
Biotron noted the Vpu protein of HIV-1 is largely responsible for the downregulation of cell surface markets that impact immune responses.
BIT225 works by inhibiting Vpu – facilitating the immune system in recognising the virus, which then triggers the defence processes including clearing the virus. This is in addition to BIT225’s anti-viral effect.
Biotron claims the latest results support further clinical study into the anti-viral and immunological benefits of BIT225 therapy in combination with current anti-HIV drugs.
“BIT225 treatment may be a valuable addition to future anti-retroviral treatment, and in consideration of eradication strategies,” Biotron stated.