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Long-Acting Implant In The Works To Improve HIV Treatment Adherence

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HIV is a disease for which there is no cure. However, an antiretroviral therapy regimen, which is usually a combination of drugs, can reduce the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels, and help the HIV-infected people live a long and healthy life - but there's a catch. Only if the antiretroviral therapy is strictly adhered to can the treatment be a success. Currently, the antiretroviral drugs need to be taken every day, and adhering to this daily regimen can be difficult for some.

Seeking to improve the HIV medication adherence, researchers from the University Of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have developed a new drug delivery system that has been tested in animal models.

The novel drug delivery system is an ultra-long-acting tunable, and removable polymer-based biodegradable implant that offers sustained drug delivery for up to one year for HIV treatment or prevention.

The injectable formulation includes the anti-HIV drug in a homogeneous solution, a biodegradable polymer, and a biocompatible, water-miscible organic solvent. Once injected under the skin, this three-component liquid becomes a solid implant. Once the polymer begins to degrade, the drug is slowly released from the implant and maintained in the plasma for several weeks to up to one year, say the researchers.

As part of the study, the researchers investigated fourteen antiretroviral drugs for their suitability to be formulated into In situ forming implants or ISFIs and demonstrate the ability to formulate six (6) of them into ISFIs individually (single drug ISFI) or in combination with one or two other drugs (combination drug ISFI) and achieve sustained plasma concentrations from one month to up to 1 year.

This novel drug delivery system has an edge over other long-acting injectables, currently in development, according to the researchers. In case of an allergic or adverse reaction, or due to pregnancy, if the treatment has to be terminated, these In situ forming implants can be surgically removed.

The research paper is published in Nature Communications under the title "Ultra-long-acting tunable biodegradable and removable controlled release implants for drug delivery".

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