A blood concentrate purified with a monoclonal antibody toFactor VIII, the protein required to treat the most commonform of hemophilia, may help hemophiliacs infected with HIVremain free of AIDS symptoms, according to a clinical study inItaly.

Using 20 infected but asymptomatic hemophiliacs randomlyassigned to either antibody-purified or a less pureconcentrate, the research team at a Naples hospital found thatthe group given the purified concentrate did not deteriorateover the 96-week follow-up period.

Signs of clinical deterioration in the other group includeddeclines in CD4 T cell counts and development of AIDS-relatedinfections.

The purified concentrate is made by Baxter Healthcare Corp.(NYSE:BAX), a Glendale, Calif., subsidiary of BaxterInternational Inc., which uses a monoclonal antibody to pullFactor VIII from blood.

Researchers have suspected that protein contaminants in lesspure Factor VIII concentrates may serve as co-factors in theprogression of AIDS in HIV-infected hemophiliacs.

The investigators, reporting in the Oct. 15 issue of the journalBlood, said that a larger group of patients would be necessaryto confirm this evidence supporting the co-factor notion.However, such expanded trials are unlikely, as more and morehemophiliacs are switching to purer concentrates and seekingAIDS treatments earlier, "making their enrollment in otherprospective trials impossible." -- RF

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