Upjohn announced on July 22 the synthesis of a drug, BHAP-E, that in the test tube is more potent than AZT, DDI, or any other similar drugs being used against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Clinical trials on healthy people will begin in September.
Irwin Chen, a collaborator in the Upjohn study, adds a note of caution to Upjohn's report. He points out that the virus eventually develops resistance to the new drug. He believes that BHAP-E will most likely be used in combination with other drugs in a kind of chemotherapy approach to treating AIDS.
Chen notes that Merck and Boeringher-Ingelheim developed drugs similar to BHAP-E but dropped them when early results showed HIV resistance developing. "That's too bad," he says, adding that the more drugs available for combining against AIDS, the better the chance of success.