SCIENCE / MEDICINE : New Find in War on AIDS

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A new type of compound appears to be the "most specific and potent" blocker of AIDS virus reproduction yet discovered and may lead to less toxic treatments for the disease, scientists said last week.

A Belgian research team said its test-tube screening of 600 different types of chemicals has turned up a compound group that completely halts AIDS virus growth with doses up to 30,000 times below the level that kills key immune cells.

Drugs currently used to thwart reproduction of the AIDS virus, AZT and DDI, require doses with five to 100 times more cell-killing potential, possibly explaining their unwanted toxic side effects, researchers said.

"We believe (the newly discovered compounds) are the most specific and potent inhibitors of HIV-1 (AIDS virus) replication studied so far," the researchers said in a study published in the journal Nature.

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