HIV research involving UNMC featured in New England Journal of Medicine

A recent study involving HIV researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center revealed that a new, simplified drug may be the most effective treatment for people infected with this disease.

The research was featured in the Nov. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study compared the traditional drug therapy currently used and thought to be the “gold standard” to a new medication called dolutegravir. When combined with two commonly used HIV medications, dolutegravir is more effective – 88 percent compared to 81 percent – in reducing the viral load of HIV found in a patient’s bloodstream and has fewer side effects.

“The significance of the study was found in the number of people who discontinued taking the traditional drug therapy because of side effects compared to the newer drug,” said Uriel Sandkovsky, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine with the HIV Clinic and transplant infectious disease program at UNMC and the lead UNMC researcher on the study.

As researchers and physicians search for ways to help patients this study will help in determining which HIV drug therapies are tolerated by the most people, he said.

Dr. Sandkovsky was one of the authors of the study that included more than 100 investigators from 15 countries involved in the study. The double blind controlled trial started in 2010 and is still ongoing, he said.

The study is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and ViiV Healthcare.

“Fifteen to 20 years ago patients would take 15 pills multiple times a day, now we are down to a daily combination pill. That’s a great improvement,” Dr. Sandkovsky said.

Currently there are three once-a-day treatments that combine three or more drugs in one pill to offer patients for treatment.

“Now we have one more medication to offer our patients, that we know is actually more effective with the least side effects,” Sandkovsky said.

“At the HIV Clinic we take research very seriously, carefully evaluating clinical trials in order to offer what we think is the safest and the best option for our patients,” he said. “We have Dr. Susan Swindells as a great leader and a fantastic team to support all we do.”

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.

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Lisa Spellman
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4353