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HIV implant could ‘revolutionise’ the way patients are treated, by releasing drugs automatically into the body.

Scientists at the Oak Crest Institute of Science in California have taken the idea of a contraceptive implant and adapted it for use in HIV. The implants, roughly the size of a matchstick, would deliver a controlled amount of antiretroviral drugs over a sustained period of time.

For patients who have several drugs to manage or for whom adhering to the medication regime can be tricky, this new method of drug delivery could be a real step forward and offer a more effective means of treating patients.

Study author and founder of Oak Crest, Dr Marc Baum, said:

‘To our knowledge, this is the first implant to be used for this purpose. This novel device will revolutionise how we treat or prevent HIV and Aids as it delivers powerful HIV-stopping drugs and eliminates one of the key obstacles in HIV/Aids prevention – adherence to proper dosing regimens.’

‘In clinical trials erratic administration of drugs has led to highly variable efficacy outcomes. That’s what peaked our interest in the possible use of a subdermal implant for the prevention of HIV.’

The implant, a small flexible tube, measures around 40mm in length and would be inserted under the skin by a healthcare professional.

It is easily inserted and removed and provides sustained release of the potent retroviral tenofovir alafenamide. This is roughly 10 times more potent against HIV than tenofovir disoproxil fumarate – another retroviral that has been shown to prevent sexually transmitted HIV, when used as a pre-exposure prophlaxis.

‘We are very pleased with the results of our preliminary studies and are working diligently to develop a subdermal implant for HIV prevention that will remain effective for a full 12 months.’

The implant is yet to be tested in human beings.

Dr Baum’s teams’ findings were published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust, comented that:

‘Administering antiretroviral medication through an implant potentially represents an exciting new way of providing treatment for people living with HIV. Currently, antiretroviral medication has to be taken daily and orally. We know there are times when patients do not always adhere to their dosing instructions, so an implant could possibly overcome this challenge.’

Source: American Society for Microbiology – abstract

Copy by Steve Cummins

 

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