Barking Up the Right Tree

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a simple, scalable method for synthesizing the HIV drug candidates prostratin and its derivative 12-deoxyphorbol-13-phenylacetate that obviates the need to isolate prostratin from plant sources. The method, reported in Scienceby a team led by Paul Wender, professor of chemistry at Stanford, paves the way for the commercial development of these compounds to treat latent HIV infection.1

There are no marketed HIV treatments that go after latent virus reservoirs-copies of the virus that lie dormant in host cells for years before becoming active. Most compounds that activate latent virus and make it susceptible to antiretroviral therapy are also plagued by side effects such as oncogenicity, T cell depletion and toxicity that make

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