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Anyone hear of Ceragenins?

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By Daniel Jackson
A compound invented by BYU chemistry professor Paul D. Savage killed multiple strains of the virus that causes AIDS in early laboratory tests, according to statement from Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals on Monday, Feb.6, 2006.

Savage worked with Vanderbilt University professor Derya Unutmaz in developing and testing a family of compounds known as Ceragenins, or CSAs. One compound in particular, CSA-54, was particularly effective in inhibiting HIV infection of human T cells and killing different strains of the virus, Unutmaz said.

The compound apparently works by attacking the viral membrane, preventing it from interacting the T cells that HIV normally targets.

"This is particularly important, as a compound that targets the viral membrane is likely to be effective against all strains of the virus, regardless of mutations," Unutmaz said.

The entire family of CSAs is licensed to Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, a Denver-based biopharmaceutical company that owns the patent to Barrier Repair Technology for treatment of skin disorders as well as the license for Ceragenins. BYU and Vanderbilt have also jointly filed a patent on Ceragenin technology, according to a Ceragenix press release.

BYU spokesman Grant Madsen cautioned against unrealistic hype concerning the compound, noting that the tests were conducted in test tubes and not in animals or humans. He said the researchers will probably either continue to recreate the original tests or begin testing on animals.

"Although any possible treatment is still a long way off, we're encouraged by these early studies of Dr. Savage's compounds and look forward to more research in this area," Madsen said.

In an interview with Salt Lake Tribune reporter Bob Mims, Savage reiterated Madsen's concerns about misleading publicity.

"We have some preliminary but very exciting results," Savage said. "We would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype."

Savage further told the Tribune that the potential uses of Ceragenins are much broader than their application in AIDS drugs. He noted the drugs have also shown promise in fighting microbial and bacteria infections.

Savage was not available to speak to The Daily Universe at the time this article was written.

Yes, they made a big deal out of this announcement earlier this year, but they really didn't give much specific information, and I don't think their research has been peer-reviewed. If you go to their website, there is no mention whatsoever about CSA's and hiv, with the exception of the Feb press release, which is what you posted. Bottom line: way too early to tell. But no reason to be discouraged, there are plenty of other promising candidates out there. I am confident great things are on the horizon. I think 2007 is going to be a great year.

J220 I think so too. From what I am reading 2005-2006 has been a very good year fr science in discovering new methods to combat HIV.

I see it this way, if we were able to discover planets in the universe and fly to the moon the cure or at least a better treatment method is on its way. My nurse practitioner who i have a suspicion may be HIV poz says there is no need for us to worry. Most of us who recently got infected will die of old age. Seems a little far fetched but at least he gave me a better outview of what can happen soon.

Let's stay strong


I've heard of these. I don't know what all the fuss is about - they are just another compound that shows antiviral activity in a test tube. So does bleach! That's a long way away from being able to put it in somebody's body and have a measurable effect against HIV...

I think the most promising developments I've heard of recently is the use of valproic acid to stimulate latent reservoirs of HIV haboring immune cells so they can be destroyed by more intensive ARV, and the use of radioimmunotherapy to kill HIV infected cells in mice, which should now hopefully be trialled in humans. is website I'm using that is searching through compounds classified by the NIH and modelling their predicted activity against HIV protease enzyme. Check it out!


I was excited about these too when I first read about them (hi everyone, by the way, just joined and this is my first post...glad/not glad to be here, if you know what I mean).  I tried to email Derya Unmatz, who was the researcher for CSA-54 at Vanderbilt U, which seemed like where the real action on this was happening.  I never heard from him but then wrote to the person listed on of the PRs as being the contact (can't remember his name at the moment).  He wrote me a nice note saying that Unmatz had left to another Univ in Canada and that as far as he knew, no one was working on this now and it was up to Ceregenix to develop it.  Which, as noted above based on the company's website, means that there is probably nothing happening with it and they don't think it would be profitable to work on.  He also told me that the media had greatly overhyped it (big shock).  That's all I know.  Fortunately, there are many, many other things in development.  Any news on the Ensoli vaccine would be appreciated as would the vaccine from Ontario (Dr. Young Kang) which was hyped bigtime a few months ago as going into trials in 2007 funded by a Korean company.

Sorry to be a newbie, but if anyone knows how to get private messages to work, l would appreciate it.  Can't seem to find the links and 'new messages' just gives an error. thanks!


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