The anti-HIV drug nefenavir is expected to treat echinococcosis

The anti-HIV drug nefenavir can effectively inhibit echinococcosis growth in an immunocompetent or suppressed state. Courtesy of Lanzhou University

Recently, the research group of Wang Shuai, associate professor of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biosafety of Lanzhou University, has made important progress in the research of echinococcosis treatment drugs. The researchers found that the drug nelfenavir against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be effective in treating hydatid disease, and the results of the research were published in the international clinical journal “Lancet” translational medicine sub-journal “Electronic Biology”.

Hydatidiosomiasis is a widespread and harmful zoonotic parasitic disease that can cause death. If not treated in time, the most dangerous echinococcosis has a ten-year mortality rate of more than 90%, causing a major public health burden and economic loss to China’s agricultural and pastoral areas. At present, the treatment of this type of disease is very limited, and only one drug, albendazole, has been used for clinical treatment. However, the effect of the drug is limited, and it has been reported that its drug effect is dependent on host T cell immunity, and the effect is weakened in the immunosuppressed state. As a worm, echinococcosis itself can induce immunosuppression of the host, and there is extensive co-infection with immunosuppressive pathogens such as HIV, resulting in inefficient and complex current drug therapy.

In response to these difficulties, the study has been screened for batches of drugs, and innovatively demonstrated that nefenavir, a first-line treatment for AIDS “cocktail therapy”, can effectively penetrate into the hydatid cysts on both immunotrophic and immunodeficient hosts, killing the worm body to treat echinococcosis. At the same time, the study found that the drug target of nelfinavir on worms is Ddi1-like protein on the whole genome of worms, and proved the function of this gene on worms and the drug mechanism of action of nelfinavir. This study provides a highly efficient new treatment for echinococcosis (especially in the immunosuppressive state), and provides a basis for a single drug to treat echinococcosis/helminth-HIV co-infection, which has important scientific significance and potential clinical application value. (Source: China Science Daily Wen Caifei Faisa)

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