by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations
Uriel Sandkovsky, M.D.
A recent study involving HIV researchers at UNMC revealed that a new, simplified drug may be the most effective treatment for people infected with the 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, which included more than 100 investigators from 15 countries. 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,” Dr. 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 Susan Swindells, M.B.B.S., as a great leader and a fantastic team to support all we do.”