MONTREAL - Research and clinical data presented at the recent 12th International AIDS Conference revealed that resistance to the latest antiviral therapeutics is a continuing concern in the fight to overcome the deadly disease.

Oleg Romar, chairman and CEO of Supratek Pharma Inc., told BioWorld International, “Even with some of the excellent drug combination therapies that are available today, there is a rapidly developing need for novel anti-HIV drugs due to resistance, which affects between 30 to 50 percent of patients undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy. The multidrug resistance phenomenon of HIV quasi-species is not well understood, however the need for new therapeutic strategies is clear.“

Romar's company, an emerging biotechnology firm, has just entered into a collaborative research agreement with the McGill University AIDS Centre's Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, of Montreal, for development of a drug for HIV.

The treatment, which is undergoing preclinical trials, is known as SP1093V. The drug exhibits new mechanisms of action and utilizes a molecule that Supratek licensed-in from the Lady Davis Institute. Early preclinical data indicate that when the molecule is formulated in one of Supratek's Biotransport carriers, it appears to exhibit a combination of antiviral activities that has not been achieved by any of the currently used anti-HIV drugs.

Michael Parniak, senior scientist at the McGill AIDS Centre, said SP1093V showed simultaneous activity against both acute and persistent HIV-1 infections in standard experimental models.

“Most anti-HIV drugs tend to fall into one of two categories: reverse transcriptase or protease inhibitors, which act at different stages of the virus life cycle. SP1093V appears to be effective at both these stages and shows some other new mechanisms of action which have yet to be completely identified,“ Parniak said.

Biotransport is Supratek's core technology and is based on the use of synthetic molecules tailored to improve the biological activity of conventional and biotechnology drugs without changing their molecular structure in the body.

Supratek said it intends to aggressively pursue development of SP1093V and to seek a major partner to accelerate the process. *