Topical docosanol may be beneficial in treating HIV-related Kaposi’s sarcoma

The antiviral agent docosanol appears safe and may be effective as a topical treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) lesions in HIV-positive patients, according to the results of a pilot study published in the January 1st issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses.

Docosanol has shown activity against a broad spectrum of lipid-enveloped viruses in vitro, is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the topical treatment of recurrent oral-facial herpes simplex infections.

Dr. Michael J. Scolaro, from the Scolaro Medical Coalition, in Beverly Hills, California, and colleagues assessed the safety and efficacy of topical docosanol 10% cream in 10 HIV-1-positive KS patients treated with the medication five times daily for 4 weeks. At the end of the 4-week period, all patients elected to have their treatment extended for up to 35 weeks.

The researchers point out that the current study’s ability to determine efficacy is limited because it was an open-label study without a placebo group and because patients did not discontinue their established antiviral regimens. In addition, ACTG response criteria were not employed.

“The study has nevertheless shown that docosanol can be used safely in immunocompromised individuals and that it may exert clinical benefits on cutaneous KS lesions in HIV-positive patients, indicating that docosanol 10% cream merits further investigation as a topical therapy for the treatment of cutaneous KS disease,” Dr. Scolaro’s team concludes.


AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 2001;17:35-43.

Source: Reuters Health

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