AAP

A new way of treating HIV could be on the way, says drug developer Biotron.

Biotron on Tuesday released preliminary results of an early trial of its lead anti-viral drug, BIT225, on 21 HIV-infected patients in Bangkok, Thailand.

"The results suggest that BIT225 is a candidate agent that could be useful in future eradication strategies," Biotron managing director Dr Michelle Miller said.

Current anti-HIV drugs target HIV in T-cells and aim to keep the virus in check and ensure that the number of T-cells stays at a healthy level.

But these drugs do not target "reservoirs" of HIV that exist in other cells of the body, and which act as ongoing sources of HIV infection.

Dr Miller said Biotron's drug targets HIV in long-lived cells called macrophages, which exist in the brain, liver, gut and lungs.

The macrophages slowly replicate HIV and put it out into the blood system, where the virus again affects more T-cells.

"Existing drugs clear that up (the T-cell infection), but they don't ever clear up this underlying reservoir," Dr Miller said.

She said Biotron's drug worked against the underlying HIV reservoir.

The preliminary trial results showed that after treatment with the Biotron drug, viral levels in patients went way down.

Full results from the trial are expected to be released later in 2013.

Dr Miller said focus so far in HIV treatment had been on the T-cells and helping patients survive.

Now that some patients could survive on medication for 20-25 years, focus was now turning towards the long-term existence of the virus.

Dr Miller said having the HIV virus over the long term contributed to the ageing of the immune system, making patients appear a lot older, and also to AIDS-related dementia.

More effective treatments, therefore, could improve the quality of life of patients.

Shares in Biotron were one cent, or 9.09 per cent, higher at 12 cents at 1538 AEDT on Tuesday.