Would you be interested in a pill that treats HIV and only has to be taken once a week? If so, you might get that sometime in the future.
Nature Communications published a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (more commonly known as MIT) that is looking into the possibility of a once a week HIV-treatment pill.
The idea is based off of already established malaria medication. MIT researchers have made a capsule that can release drugs preventing malaria, or specifically called ivermectin, for two weeks. Now, they want to do the same for Truvada.
The way it works is that a single smooth coating capsule is loaded with medication that’s folded into a star shaped polymer with six arms. When that capsule is swallowed, it sticks to the stomach. Then, each arm opens separately and slowly. Then, when all the medication is gone, the pill is fully digested.
“One of the main barriers to treating and preventing HIV is adherence,” says Giovanni Traverso, a researcher at MIT and one of the study’s authors. “The ability to make doses less frequent stands to improve adherence and make a significant impact at the patient level.”
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That said, this process won’t work out exactly the same way for HIV-treatment as it takes way more types of medicine than just the one for malaria.
That said, researchers are still hopeful and they are even saying they hope to eventually expand into doing the same for PrEP.
“Lack of adherence to once-daily therapeutics for infected individuals and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for uninfected at-risk people remain a key challenge,” director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Anthony Fauci said in a statement. “New and improved tools for HIV treatment and prevention, along with wider implementation of novel and existing approaches, are needed to end the HIV pandemic as we know it. Studies such as this help us move closer to achieving this goal.”