The protein, dubbed Peptide T, was isolated from the HIV envelope protein and is being tested on Swedish and U.S.
At a seminar last week, the NIMH investigators described evidence suggesting that Peptide T may protect brain and immune cells by mimicking a naturally occurring peptide -- vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP).
Brenneman, VIP and Peptide T similarly protected mouse neurons in laboratory cultures from dying after exposure to low concentrations of the HIV envelope protein.
Peptide T may act at only one of those subtypes, she notes.
A preliminary clinical trial of five patients in the early stages of AIDS injected with Peptide T for 30 days resulted in all the subjects reporting more energy, says Peter Bridge of NIMH.
The protein, called peptide T, is a short segment found in the envelope of the AIDS-causing virus (SN: 12/20&27/86, p.388).
Refusing to speculate on whether peptide T will prove to be a general treatment for AIDS, Wetterberg says case-control human trials must be completed before efficacy of the drug is known.
Preliminary human trials of a synthetic peptide T made atthe National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., recently were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.