UCL News


New research: treating drug-resistant HIV

2 March 2011


Deenan Pillay ucl.ac.uk/cbrc/" target="_self">UCLH/UCL Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre
  • Lancet Infectious Diseases - study abstract
  • Watch: Professor Deenan Pillay on the challenges of HIV
  • New research into the effects of drug-resistant strains of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could help the initial treatment of millions of people worldwide.     

    Researchers at UCL and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) were among the collaborators in the European study, published this week in Lancet Infectious Diseases, which found that the initial treatment of people infected with drug resistant strains of the virus was three times more likely to fail than of those infected with non drug-resistant strains.

    Using the right combination of antiretroviral drugs to treat drug resistant strains of the virus could reduce this rate of failure, the study suggested.

    The study, which involved researchers from the UCLH/UCL Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC), included a cohort of 10,000 patients across Europe. By investigating the way in which patients controlled their HIV infection, researchers have been able to suggest which combinations of antiretroviral drugs would be best.  

    The findings provide further evidence that full genetic testing of the viral strain before treatment starts is an important part of effective HIV treatment. In Europe and the US, where around 10-15% of patients are infected with drug-resistant strains of HIV, genetic testing of the strain is routine, but this is not yet the case in developing countries where drug resistance is likely to rise. 

    Study author and Director of the UCLH/UCL CBRC, Professor Deenan Pillay, said: "The study has important implications for treatment around the world. It shows that we need to know which strain of the virus patients are infected with before we start treatment in order that we can give them the most beneficial combinations of retroviral drugs possible to prevent their treatment from failing."

    Image: Professor Deenan Pillay

    UCL Context 

    The UCLH/UCL National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) was established in 2007 and is at the forefront of research into some of the major causes of illness and disease-related death.

    The CBRC has 16 research themes and has invested over £100m in new translational research projects, staff, equipment and facilities, including the Clinical Research Facility at University College Hospital. It has also funded 136 consultants and recently launched a new Centre for Nurse and Midwife led research.

    In addition to the CBRC, UCL is the only UK university hosting two NIHR Specialist Biomedical Research Centres, formed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

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