Promising Aids trials provide a shot in the arm for Glaxo

Promising Aids trial results over the weekend gave a fillip to Glaxo Wellcome's portfolio of new and existing HIV drugs. The company said it was "encouraged by these initial reports" even if it was too early to draw firm conclusions from a relatively small trial.

According to Glaxo, a majority of patients suffering from human immunodeficiency virus, the precursor to full-blown Aids, saw levels of the virus drop to undetectable levels following four weeks of treatment with two new compounds under development by the drugs giant. There was also no sign of any resistance to the combined treatment, a problem which has dogged some other anti-Aids drugs.

The news, released at a Washington medical conference yesterday, came alongside encouraging results from trials involving a "triple cocktail" of drugs using Glaxo's existing Retrovir (AZT) and Epivir (3TC) anti-Aids products in association with drugs developed by Abbott Laboratories and Merck, two US rivals to Glaxo.

Those tests offered hope for children who had inherited the HIV virus from their parents, seeming to suggest a cocktail of the drugs administered early could stop HIV in its tracks. Again, researchers stressed that it was too early to know for certain whether the drugs were completely effective.

Separately, DuPont Merck, a joint venture between the Delaware-based chemicals company and Merck, said an experimental drug known as DMP-266 in conjunction with another Merck treatment, Crixivan, had shown a fall in HIV blood counts below detectable levels in 82 per cent of patients.

The results of the new Glaxo drug trials, which were carried out by the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, were greeted with cautious optimism by the company. Richard Kent, director of world-wide clinical research, said: "While it would be extremely premature to draw any conclusions based on such early results in such a small number of patients, we are encouraged by these initial reports."

Larger trials involving a variety of types of patient and different drug combinations were continuing, he added, "and we are working as quickly as possible to learn what their optimal role in therapy will be".

The new compounds involved are part of a new generation of anti-Aids drugs following on from Retrovir and Epivir. One, a so-called reverse transcriptase inhibitor codenamed 1592U89, was developed by Wellcome before its takeover by Glaxo as a successor to Epivir. The other is a protease inhibitor coded 141W94, which was invented by a US biotechnology company, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and has been licensed to Glaxo.

The latest findings on the drugs' effectiveness in combination were released at the Fourth National Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Washington. Five out of seven patients in the trial showed positive results, with the amount of virus in their bloodstream dropping to below 400 detections per millilitre, while infection-fighting CD4 cells increased over the four-week period. The drugs were said to be "well tolerated", although nausea is clearly a problem, forcing one patient to discontinue the treatment.

Even so, analysts are expected to generally welcome the results as confirming the value of combination therapy in the battle against Aids. Anthony Colletta of Glaxo's own brokers, Hoare Govett, said on Friday: "There are no fears about Glaxo's position in the HIV market... even on the most bearish forecast it will still have 50 per cent of the market by the year 2000."

By then he expects the group's anti-Aids portfolio to be generating sales of pounds 1.15bn, out of the total of pounds 5.6bn forecast to be coming from new drugs launched between 1993 and 2000. Within that, the 1592 compound will be turning over pounds 112m, while 141W sales could be pounds 121m, he believes. The trials on children, conducted by the University of Massachusetts, are similar to a study by leading Aids researcher David Ho. In his study of newly-infected HIV adults, he found that a mixture of Abbott Laboratories' Norvir with Glaxo Wellcome's AZT and 3TC could reduce the level of HIV in patients' blood to below detectable levels.

It also appeared to stop the disease's reproduction in the lymphoid tissue and elsewhere in the body.

He found similar effects with a mix of Merck's Crixivan and 3TC and AZT.

Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits