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Being Alive
MEDICAL UPDATE: Study of PEG IL-2 and AZT
Mark Katz MD and reported by Jim Stoecker
May 5, 1993
Being Alive 1993 May 5: 8

Interleukin 2 is the best immune booster that we currently have available. Studies from 1989 and 1990 showed IL-2 doubling the T-cell count of recipients. The problem with the drug, however, has been that, in order to get enough to be effective, the patient needed almost continuous infusion. Obviously, IL-2 needed to be reformulated in order to make its use practical.

IL-2 has now been reformulated as polyethylene glycol interleukin 2 or PEG IL-2. A recent Journal of Infectious Diseases reported on a small Phase I study at Stanford of PEG IL-2. The IL-2 was combined with AZT, so that the elevated T-cell counts would not result in simply more targets for HIV.

Researchers found that PEG IL-2 was reasonably well tolerated by the six people in the study. The study participants went through three separate courses of high dose drug therapy, and during each course, mean CD4 rose 72% to 120% above baseline. These results, of course, are impressive, but this was a very small study. And a further caution is that we still have not proven that raising T-cell counts actually prolongs survival. Nonetheless, wider studies of PEG IL-2 are needed. 

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