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New Drug Capsule May Allow Weekly HIV Treatment

Replacing daily pills with a weekly regimen could help patients adhere to therapy

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a capsule that can deliver a week’s worth of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drugs in a single dose. This advance could make it much easier for patients to adhere to the strict schedule of dosing required for the drug cocktails used to fight the virus, the researchers say.

The new capsule is designed so that patients can take it just once a week, and the drug will release gradually throughout the week. This type of delivery system could not only improve patients’ adherence to their treatment schedule but also be used by people at risk of HIV exposure to help prevent them from becoming infected, the researchers say.

“One of the main barriers to treating and preventing HIV is adherence,” says Giovanni Traverso, a research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The ability to make doses less frequent stands to improve adherence and make a significant impact at the patient level.”

Traverso and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, are the senior authors of the study, which appears in Nature Communications. MIT postdoc Ameya Kirtane and visiting scholar Omar Abouzid are the lead authors of the paper.

Scientists from Lyndra, a company that was launched to develop this technology, also contributed to the study. Lyndra is working toward performing a clinical trial using this delivery system.

The MIT/BWH team is also working on adapting this technology to other diseases that could benefit from weekly drug dosing. Because of the way that the researchers designed the polymer arms of the capsule, it is fairly easy to swap different drugs in and out, they say. They are also working on capsules that could stay in the body for much longer periods of time.

Source: MIT; January 9, 2018.

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