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Hitting HIV hard with HAART therapy

1985

Challenge

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), discovered in 1984 Discovery of HIV, is a retrovirus that causes progressive failure of the immune system, resulting in the development of opportunistic infections and cancers (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS). Development of therapies is imperative to stop viral replication and progression of the disease.

Advance

Soon after HIV was found to be the cause of AIDS, Samuel Broder, M.D., Hiroaki Mitsuya, M.D., Ph.D., and Robert Yarchoan, M.D., demonstrated that certain nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors had activity against HIV in the test tube, a discovery the team rapidly moved to test in clinical trials.

Impact

This research yielded the first drugs approved by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of HIV infection: zidovudine (AZT) in 1985, didanosine (ddI) in 1991, and zalcitabine (ddC) in 1992. These drugs became the foundation for highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART), saving countless lives.

Publications

Yarchoan R, Mitsuya H, Thomas RV, Pluda JM, Hartman NR, Perno CF, Marczyk KS, Allain JP, Johns DG, Broder S. (1989). In vivo activity against HIV and favorable toxicity profile of 2',3'-dideoxyinosine. Science. 245(4916), 412-5.