Organic chemistry: Flushing out HIV

    Science 320, 649–652 (2008)

    The possibility of adding prostratin to antiretroviral therapies has been held back because it is scarce in nature, an impediment that the chemical's laboratory synthesis has just removed. Prostratin activates latent HIV viruses even in patients with undetectable viral loads, flushing out viruses that would otherwise be hidden. Including it in drug regimes might make patients who stop treatment after a few years less likely to experience 'viral rebound'.

    Paul Wender and his colleagues at Stanford University in California found that they could make prostratin by first cleaving and then re-establishing the ring of three carbon atoms in phorbol, which is readily available. The process of putting the ring back together involves four steps that can be tweaked to produce various similar chemicals.

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    Organic chemistry: Flushing out HIV. Nature 453, 136 (2008).

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