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A once-a-week HIV pill could soon be available

Jasmine Andersson January 16, 2018
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Various tablets are pictured in the premises of the French pharmaceutical company Servier, in Gidy, some 100 km south of Paris on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

A scientific breakthrough could mean that a once-a-week HIV capsule could soon be on the market.

The research, which was conducted by MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has combined a weekly dose of HIV medicine into one daily capsule.

Published in Nature Communications, the new system could help those juggling a difficult cocktail of HIV treatment.

“We are all very excited about how this new drug-delivery system can potentially help patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as many other diseases,” said Robert Langer, a scientist who helped create the capsule.

“The ability to make doses less frequent stands to improve adherence and make a significant impact at the patient level,” 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.

In order to test the research, a star-shaped capsule was filled with a week’s worth of drugs.

When it is swallowed, the arms then open and attach to the stomach, slowly releasing medication. The pill then travels down the digestive tract when the course is over.

As well as this, it is hoped that the tablet can be used for both HIV and PrEP treatment.

The tablet design can “improve their adherence to their treatment schedule but also be used by people at risk of HIV exposure to help prevent them from becoming infected”, say the researchers.

So far, the tablet has been tested on pigs, who responded well to its use.

“It’s a very interesting approach and certainly something that’s worth further development, and potentially human trials to see how workable this is,” Daniel Kuritzkes, a contributing researcher and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says MIT News.

Related topics: AIDS, HIV, news, PrEP, science, UK, US, US

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