||Gabriel ADEYEMO [ profile ]
Premature aging from some HIV drugs
Jul 3rd, 2011 - 18:15:50
Zidovudine, also known as the HIV drug AZT, part of the first class of drugs
developed to treat HIV, may be linked to premature aging, British
researchers say. Professor Patrick Chinnery, a Wellcome senior fellow at the
Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University in England, says when
this first class of drugs were created, they greatly extended lifespan and
changed the condition to more chronic, than terminal.
"HIV clinics were seeing patients successfully treated but who showed signs
of being much older, but colleagues recognize similarities with patients
affected by mitochondrial diseases," Chinnery said. The researchers found
that patients who had been treated with the drugs even a decade ago had
damaged mitochondria similar to those of a healthy aged person. "The DNA in
our mitochondria gets copied throughout our lifetimes and, as we age,
naturally accumulates errors," Chinnery says.
"We believe that these HIV drugs accelerate the rate at which these errors
build up. So over the space of, say, 10 years, a person's mitochondrial DNA
may have accumulated the same amount of errors as a person who has naturally
aged 20 or 30 years." The older drugs are used less commonly in high-income
countries but have been used to treat those with HIV in Africa and
low-income countries because they are generic and relatively cheap. Despite
the side effect, the drugs are still important and the risks are relative,
the researchers say.
The findings are published in the journal *Nature Genetics*.
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