Current Affairs

New implant could ‘revolutionise’ HIV treatment

Joseph McCormick May 7, 2015
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A new way of administering drugs to treat HIV could “revolutionise” the way those living with the virus receive treatment.

The subdermal implant, roughly the size of a matchstick, is similar to the contraceptive implant, and would deliver antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive patients.

According to scientists at the Oak Crest Institute of Science in the US state of California, the new implant could offer a more effective way of delivering treatment, as it eliminates the need for a patient to remember to take medication regularly.

In early tests of the implant, and in the first 40-days there were no side effects. The findings were published in the journal, ‘Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.’

Dr Marc Baum, who led the study and founded Oak Crest, 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.”

Noting that sometimes patients are unable to regularly take their treatment as advised by healthcare professionals, he said the 40mm long implant could eliminate that.

“It’s unfortunate, but patients do not always follow the dosing instructions as prescribed,” he said.

“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.”

Dr Baum added: “Our subdermal implant is used in the same manner as a contraceptive implant.

“It is easily inserted and removed and provides sustained release of the potent pro-drug tenofovir alafenamide.

“This is roughly 10 times more potent against HIV than tenofovir disoproxil fumarate – another pro-drug 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.”

Related topics: AIDS, antiretroviral, HIV, research, study, treatment, US

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