Universidad Central del Caribe Receives a New Patent for the Treatment of AIDS

Investigadores (2)

De izq a der : Dr. José W. Rodríguez, Dr. Eddie Ríos-Olivares, Dra. Vesna Eterovic y Dr. Henrique Martins

The United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) have recently granted the UCC patent No. US 8,835,412 B2, titled Therapeutic Application of Cembranoids against HIV virus replication, HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders and HIV Virus-Induced Inflammation. This patent is based on the coordinated effort of five investigators from the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology of the UCC School of Medicine: Dr. Pedro Ferchmin, Dr. Vesna Eterovic, Dr. Jose Rodriguez, Dr. Eddy Rios-Olivares, and Dr. Henrique Martins. Their collaborative research demonstrated that the 4R-cembranoid, a chemical compound from an unexpected source, offers new hope for AIDS victims.

In spite of the success of existing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), there is still a great need for new therapies for AIDS and AIDS-related dementias. This is so because these successful drugs do not enter the brain. In other words, the brain turns into a protected reservoir for HIV where the virus stays dormant or mutates into strains resistant to the existing therapies. Thus, new HAART drugs must be continually developed, which makes them very, very expensive.

Enter 4R-cembranoid, nicknamed here 4R, a waxy compound that covers the leaves and flowers of tobacco plants. 4R penetrates into the brain and impairs HIV multiplication in the brain as well as in the blood. 4R is active against virus strains resistant to AZT, which is a HAART drug. 4R also stops virus-induced inflammation, which favors its anti-viral activity.

4R is also safe for humans and laboratory animals. Extensive toxicity studies by specialized laboratories have demonstrated that 4R has no toxic effects even at very high doses. Humans, on the other hand, have been exposed to 4R for millennia because it is partially preserved in cigarette smoke and quickly penetrates the brain of the smoker. However, 4R has never been linked to any of the nefarious effects of tobacco. On the contrary, the UCC team and others have demonstrated that 4R displays many favorable properties in addition to those described above. 4R decreases brain damage caused by a stroke or by poisoning with insecticides or chemical war agents; it has shown promise in studies of Parkinson disease and for smoke-cessation! 4R also has anti-cancer activity.

Thus, the basic studies initiated at the UCC more than 20 years ago on an obscure group of chemical substances called cembranoids, have now led to the astounding possibility of developing a first in class therapeutic drug for a whole series of devastating neurological diseases.