Israeli researchers find AIDS drug also helps stroke patients

It became clear, for the first time, that one of the drugs given to AIDS patients contributes to improving the cognitive ability of patients suffering from stroke and traumatic head injuries as well.

AIDS Ribbon (photo credit: REUTERS)
AIDS Ribbon
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The drug given to AIDS patients to stop the destruction of the immune system is also showing to be an effective inhibitor of cognitive decline due to its effect on the same harmful proteins, slowing down its activity.
An unexpected link was found between a drug given to AIDS patients and stroke victims, in an international study aided by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovering that these drugs can help repair mental stability.
In HIV patients, the HIV virus penetrates the cells of the immune system and destroys the immune system. It does this using the 5CCR protein, which is found on immune cells, activating an anti-inflammatory cell response.
But the known effect of the protein does not only cause the immune system to collapse, it also damages nerve cells in the brain. This protein activity in the brain leads to cognitive decline, which is reflected in a decrease in memory and in the ability to learn, a phenomenon that is an essential part of AIDS decline in a patient.
A drug given to people with AIDS blocks the activity of the 5CCR protein and thereby stops the virus from penetrating the cells. The drug is given to AIDS patients in order to stop the destruction of the immune system, but it has also been found to be effective in inhibiting cognitive decline, because it acts on the same harmful protein and inhibits its activity.
CELL recently reported that a group of researchers from various institutions, including Professor Esther Shemi of the Institute of Drug Science at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, noticed that the same drug also contributes to the improvement of the cognitive indices of stroke victims and traumatic head injuries.
In light of this, the possibility of treating central nervous system injuries, including stroke and head trauma, were examined using the approved drugs for AIDS patients.
"Since this is an approved drug that we are working on for another treatment, the road has already opened for clinical trials, and a team of researchers are promoting the trial for the treatment of stroke patients," said Prof. Shemi.