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Health

HIV ‘milestone’ as scientists announce development of experimental drug designed to be taken just once a year

Patrick Kelleher May 1, 2020
HIV treatment AIDS

Scientist creating HIV treatment (Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty)

Scientists in the United States have developed a new potential treatment for HIV which would allow people with the virus to have a yearly injection instead of daily medication.

The group of researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre published their findings this week in Nature Materials, a peer-reviewed research journal.

They developed the first ever year-long antiretroviral medication for HIV prevention by converting a month-long drug into one taken once a year.

The team, led by Benson Edagwa and Howard Gendelman, hope to eliminate the issues that arise from daily medication, News Medical reports.

Daily medications pose problems when people forget to take a dose, which can allow the virus to rebound.

A yearly HIV medication would simplify treatment for people with the virus.

If the year-long HIV drug is successfully passes clinical trial stages, it could significantly simplify treatment options for those who have the virus.

The drug could also be essential in the fight against HIV transmission. When a person with HIV is on effective antiretroviral treatment, their viral load is undetectable – meaning they cannot pass it on through condomless sex.

This pharmaceutical development has the potential to not only treat but also prevent viral transmission. This may certainly be a therapeutic milestone.

If this new treatment passes clinical trial stages, it is thought that it could help stop the spread of the virus by making full adherence to treatment easier.

The scientists created the new drug from cabotegravir (CAB), a HIV drug that prevents the virus from inserting itself into human cells.

The team said it could be ‘a therapeutic milestone’ – but there is a long road ahead before the drug is approved.

They chemically converted the drug into nanocrystal which allows it to be slowly released from the body’s tissue.

“This pharmaceutical development has the potential to not only treat but also prevent viral transmission. This may certainly be a therapeutic milestone,” said Gendelman.

There is a long road ahead for the new treatment. It has not yet been tested on humans, and scientists are working to move from animal testing now.

But scientists are hopeful that it could help to revolutionise treatment for people with HIV – and help prevent the transmission of the virus too.

More: AIDS, HIV, University of Nebraska

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