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Gay Men's Health Crisis

Treatment Briefs: Still Looking for the Real GEM


GMHC Treatment Issues 1996 Apr 1; 10(4): 9

A persuasive presentation at the 1993 International Conference on AIDS excited many about GEM 91, the first antisense drug targeted against HIV. Antisense compounds are synthetic segments of nucleic acid that bind to viral genetic material and disrupt the viral life cycle at multiple points. In the lab, GEM 91 blocks HIV when the virus infects new cells, when the cell's machinery is commandeered to produce viral protein, and when complete HIV gene sets are transcribed and packaged in new virions.

Clinical trials reported last September (Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy abstract I86) dampened the excitement. They found that the body breaks down GEM 91 too quickly for it to reach effective concentrations in people. Despite two-week continuous infusions, volunteers received no benefit.

Hybridon, Inc., GEM 91's developer, now has a new concentrated formulation that is administered as a subcutaneous or intramuscular injection. A French phase I study of the improved GEM 91 is scheduled for this month, and an AZT/GEM 91 drug interaction study will begin soon afterwards in Britain.


Copyright © 1996 -Gay Men's Health Crisis, Publisher. All rights reserved to Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) Treatment Issues. Reproduced with permission. Treatment Issues is published twelve times yearly by GMHC, INC. Noncommercial reproduction is encouraged. Subscription lists are kept confidential. GMHC Treatment Issues, The Tisch Building, 119 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011 Email GMHC. Visit GMHC

Information in this article was accurate in April 1, 1996. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.