Promise for HIV treatment
AIDS researchers have long sought a treatment that would work against HIV, even in the face of the
virus' uncanny ability to mutate. Now, scientists at UB have reported promising results with a new,
anti-HIV compound they designed and synthesized that seems to be effective when a virus mutates.
Jui Wang, professor of chemistry and Einstein Professor of Science, said the new compound has inhibited
reverse transcriptase, the critical enzyme in AIDS virus replication. In in vitro studies, he added,
it has inhibited this enzyme in HIV-1; HIV-2; AZT-resistant HIV; and a strain of HIV that is resistant
to Nevirapine, a drug being used to treat AIDS.
"In addition, this compound was also able to inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzymes from two other
viruses, which differ extensively in their amino-acid sequences from the HIV reverse transcriptase,"
Wang explained. "These results imply that the compound probably is mutation-insensitive and, therefore,
should be effective against all retroviruses with similar reverse transcriptase structures."
Substance detection without blood sampling
Scientists at UB are investigating new techniques to detect various substances in the body‹without
the need for a blood test. Their efforts are expected to assist pharmacists and researchers testing the
effects of certain drugs on the body.
"We are developing noninva-sive techniques for detecting glucose and other compounds in the blood by
analyzing two specific substances‹tears and subcutaneous fluid, a substance that naturally comes
through the skin," said Luis A. Colon, principal investigator and UB assistant professor of chemistry.
The study is being funded by a $179,000 three-year grant from the Whitaker Foundation.
Of life itself
A UB professor of microbiology is one of several scientists who played a key role in research that led
to the recent announcement confirming a third branch of life on earth.
Joseph M. Merrick conducted computer analyses of the 1,738 genes identified in the microbe
Methanococcus jannaschii. Researchers on the team had used gene sequencing to confirm that archaea,
the group of organisms to which the microbe belongs, constitutes a different branch of life than bacteria
and eukaryota, the latter including plants, animals, fungi and protozoa.
The discovery has been heralded as one of the major basic science developments of our time, a milestone
in mankind¹s drive to understand the nature of life, its diversity and its evolution.
The study of Methanococcus jannaschii appeared in the August 23 issue of Science.