New multi-drug delivery method introduced for HIV treatment

September 25, 2019

Patients who have to take multiple pills daily can be assured of an injectable multi-drug implant soon as scientists from the University of North Carolina (UNC), US, have designed a device that combines multiple drugs and is long-acting –specifically for HIV treatment and prevention.

UNC’s injectable implant is comprised of an organic solvent, a polymer, and the drug(s) that need to be delivered in a slightlyviscous liquid that turns into a solid when injected under the skin. This phase inversion happens when the solvent diffuses into the body and leaves behind the polymer and medication(s), which will be released in due time into the blood system.

Six antiretroviral drugs – typically used in prevention and treatment of HIV – were tested in the study, and all were observed to retain their physical and chemical properties within the formulation and upon release. All six were also released from the implant at effective levels for a period of time.

The device the first to address several challenges to the current method of long-acting drug delivery for HIV – now, multiple types of antiretroviral drugs can be used consistently and removed quickly, with the drug levelsbeing eliminated from the body within a week. Or, if the implant does not need to be removed, will biodegrade into lactic and glycolic acids, which are easily absorbed by the body.

“If a patient needs to withdraw from the treatment because they’ve had a bad reaction to the drug(s), or if a woman has become pregnant, our implant can be easily, surgically, removed,” said Martina Kovarova, an associate professor of medicine at UNC.

In addition, Rahima Benhabbour, assistant professor in the UNC Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, said, “In sub-Saharan Africa, where prevalence of HIV is highest, accessibility to medications can be difficult, and there is much stigma associated with the virus. So, it is a very big deal for someone who has to take a pill every day.”


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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