Oxihumate may boost immune system in HIV-positive patients

Enerkom, a South African research and development company report that Oxihumate-K, a coal-based drug, may boost the immune system in HIV-positive patients, Reuters reports.

According to University of Pretoria Professor Connie Medlen, the drug, sold today “on a small scale” as a nutritional supplement, “improved the condition” of HIV-positive patients in a recent study. She said that the Oxihumate-K prompted a “clinical improvement” in HIV-positive patients, adding that the drug “stimulated the type of immunity necessary to cope” with opportunistic infections. However, the drug did not help HIV-positive patients “who were already seriously ill” (BBC Monitoring, 28/09). Dr. Anthony Surridge, Enerkom’s acting CEO, said, “This is not a cure for AIDS. It boosts the immune system. It increases the quality and quantity of life.” Enerkom began a Phase II clinical trial of the drug in late 1999 on 350 HIV-positive patients at several military clinics in Tanzania. The University of Pretoria has administered the trial, funded by Enerkom’s parent company, Central Energy Fund. Enerkom plans to conduct a Phase III clinical trial of the drug in South Africa. However, Smunda Mokoena, deputy director general of South Africa’s Department of Energy, said that Enerkom plans to move the drug to the market on a larger scale in about six months, after the company completes the Phase II trial.

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reports


These trials on oxihumate are taking place at the military hospital where Virodene, the notorious South African HIV/AIDS concoction, was recently being tested until the researchers running the experiments were expelled from Tanzania earlier this month. Four years ago Virodene researchers secured South African government funding and political support to develop the drug, which turned out to be a toxic industrial solvent.

According to The Guardian Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research, which rejected the Virodene experiments, said that it has not given its approval to current trials of the coal-derived HIV/AIDS treatment, oxihumate-k.

Enerkom, the state-owned company that developed oxihumate-k, nevertheless says that its trials, which have been carried out under the auspices of the University of Pretoria, have been running since 1999 “with the appropriate [Tanzanian] authorisations”. It has spent about £8m developing the drug. Mindful of the Virodene scandal, Enerkom and the University of Pretoria have sought to distinguish oxihumate-k from Virodene, and have also been more cautious than the Virodene researchers about proclaiming the virtues of their product.

Enerkom started developing oxihumate-k in 1984, and markets it as a nutritional supplement called Oximate. According to the Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) the substance is also employed in horticulture and Omnia Fertilizers advertises oxihumate-K as a “foliar feed”. It is understood the substance helps plants absorb fertiliser. The South African Department of Health this week questioned the safety of oxihumate-K by drawing attention to its high chrome levels.

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