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Virology: Less is more: a simplified HIV treatment

Nature Communications

January 10, 2018

HIV infection could be treated and prevented by a long-lasting drug delivery system, shows a study published in Nature Communications this week. The newly developed once-weekly, oral dosage form, demonstrated in pigs, may improve patient adherence to treatment, which could decrease treatment failure and emergence of drug-resistant virus.

Current HIV treatment relies on daily pill administration and a lack of medication adherence is a barrier for efficient HIV treatment and prevention. Giovanni Traverso and colleagues have developed an oral, once-weekly delivery system that combines antiretrovirals in one dosage. This modular drug delivery system folds and recoils to enable oral delivery and prolonged residence in the gastrointestinal tract, and it can be loaded with up to six different drug formulations. The authors show in pigs that their developed ‘pill’ releases three antiretroviral drugs slowly, resulting in sufficiently high drug levels for a week. Furthermore, mathematical modelling indicates that this treatment would significantly reduce therapeutic failures and could prevent new HIV cases in high-risk populations by improving the efficacy of pre-exposure HIV prevention treatments.

Although the results with pigs are promising, future studies are needed to address safety and efficacy of this approach, as the swine model does not support HIV infection.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02294-6

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