A team of scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a pill that can control HIV for a full week with a single dose. The pill is slow-release and stays in the stomach to administer the medications continuously for seven days.
Currently, one of the main challenges faced by the treatment of acquired immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the appropriate intake of each dose by patients. This characteristic is known as lack of adherence to the drug and its incidence has been demonstrated in several clinical trials, which reveal that only 30% of patients strictly follow their dosage plans.
Given that the success of the therapy is largely due to its correct administration, scientists have seen the need to look for other more effective alternatives to achieve greater adherenceby patients. The new weekly pill is one of the most promising, since with a single dose the person is protected for seven days.
“These slow-release systems work the same or better than current daily doses for HIV treatment in preclinical models,” says C. Giovanni Traverso, a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer who teaches at Harvard Medical School.
The equipment has been based on a previous design of a capsule that, once inside the stomach, develops in a star-shaped structure too big to leave the stomach but without interfering with the proper functioning of the digestive system. The new version of this pill contains polymers and other materials to release drugs slowly, and is capable of carrying different drugs in the arms of the star.
In the tests, the scientists introduced dolutegravir, rilpivirine and cabotegravir into the antiretroviral capsule for the prevention of HIV in uninfected patients and for viral suppression among the infected. The simulations demonstrated that this new system of therapy administration could not only reduce therapeutic failures, but also prevent thousands of new infections.
According to the data handled by the researchers, this new weekly dose format could improve the effectiveness of prevention strategies up to 20%. It is believed that this new dosage model could prevent between 200,000 and 800,000 new infections over the next 20 years in population models in South Africa.