A team of Thai researchers has identified a human gene that can cause resistance to the widely used anti-viral drug Efavirenz in HIV patients.
The discovery was revealed yesterday by Chonlaphat Sukasem, head of Ramathibodi Hospital's Pharmacogenomics and Personalised Medicine Division.
His team conducted research on the link between the CYP2B6 gene and the efficacy of Efavirenz on HIV-positive patients.
Mr Chonlaphat's team earlier found that CYP2B6 abnormalities in some patients caused hypersensitivity to the anti-viral drug.
Hypersensitive patients can suffer from severe depression, hallucinations, insomnia, and suicidal tendencies in serious cases.
Building on that research, the team recently found that the genetic diversity of the CYP2B6 gene can also affect the efficacy of Efavirenz in controlling the HIV viral load.
The anti-viral drug was found to be ineffective in controlling the viral load in HIV-positive patients who had unusual CYP2B6 gene patterns, Mr Chonlaphat said.
The ineffectiveness of Efavirenz in these patients can eventually lead to anti-viral drug resistance, as well as HIV mutation, the head researcher said.
The discovery is a breakthrough in HIV/Aids treatment as it will allow doctors to prescribe anti-viral drugs that are suitable for specific patients based on their genetic diversity, Mr Chonlaphat said.
The full study will be published in an international journal later this year, he added.