UNC to create and test injectable long-acting implant to prevent HIV/AIDS

March 24, 2017

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have received a three-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new implantable drug delivery system for long-lasting HIV-prevention.

Scientists in the UNC School of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are developing an injectable drug delivery system that forms an implant that steadily releases anti-HIV medication over long periods of time.

The injectable formulation includes an anti-HIV drug, a polymer and a solvent. The three-compound liquid will solidify once injected under the skin. As the polymer slowly degrades, the drug is released. Efficacy of the new formulation to prevent HIV transmission will be evaluated using state of the art pre-clinical models developed at UNC.

Currently, a once-daily pill exists to prevent HIV infection. However, adherence to this daily regimen can be challenging for some people.

"This long-acting injectable formulation could provide a discrete and efficient method to protect against HIV infection and improve adherence, which is one of the major challenges of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP," said Rahima Benhabbour, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and one of the study's co-principal investigators. "The formulation is adaptable to a number of drugs alone or in combination and can be fine tuned to meet a targeted release regimen."

Long-acting injectable formulations for PrEP are currently being tested in clinical trials to improve adherence to the medication regimen. A limitation to the long-acting injectable formulation currently under study is that it cannot be removed from the body.

"The goal of our study is to develop an injectable polymer-based delivery system for long-acting PrEP that offers durable, sustained protection from HIV transmission, high efficacy of HIV inhibition, increased adherence and the ability to be removed in case of an unanticipated adverse event or when considering discontinuation of this form of PrEP," said Martina Kovarova, Ph.D., the study's co-principal investigator and an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases. "If discontinuation of treatment is desired, the implant would be readily removable."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will assist UNC with further testing the injectable implant in animal models.

"We are excited to be part of the team that is undertaking this important study for HIV prevention," said Gerardo Garci-Lerma, Ph.D., a research microbiologist at CDC.

The team hopes the development and testing of this injectable implant will eventually yield a formulation that can provide a three months of HIV prevention.

"We're in the very beginning stages of this project," Kovarova said. "This novel formulation has oustanding properties, and we are excited to move ahead."

Explore further: Long-acting injectable protects against vaginal HIV transmission

Related Stories

Long-acting injectable protects against vaginal HIV transmission

March 21, 2016
Vaginal transmission accounts for the majority of new HIV infections worldwide. Forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) such as vaginal gels and vaginal rings designed to prevent HIV transmission have encountered poor efficacy ...

NIH launches first large trial of a long-acting injectable drug for HIV prevention

December 20, 2016
The first large-scale clinical trial of a long-acting injectable drug for HIV prevention began today. The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will examine whether a long-acting form of the investigational ...

Two studies to test safety of injectable drugs to prevent HIV

February 18, 2015
The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) has launched two new phase 2 studies, HPTN 076 and HPTN 077, which are designed to evaluate new drugs to protect people from getting infected with HIV.

New anti-HIV medication provides protection for women and infants

August 1, 2016
HIV remains a major health concern for women and children globally. Worldwide, the majority of new HIV infections occur in young women. Each year, 1.5 million women living with HIV become pregnant. Without effective treatment, ...

Patient infected with HIV despite long-term adherence to PrEP

February 2, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a letter to the editor published in the Feb. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, authors present the case of a Canadian man infected with HIV despite long-term adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis ...

New blood spot test used internationally in fight against HIV

August 23, 2016
Researchers at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at CU Anschutz have developed a technique that estimates an HIV-negative patient's adherence to drugs prescribed to prevent HIV transmission during ...

Recommended for you

New injectable antiretroviral treatment proved to be as effective as standard oral therapy

August 3, 2017
Intramuscularly administered antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be as effective for HIV treatment as current oral therapies. This is the main conclusion of a Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 research centers around ...

Research finds home-based kit would increase HIV testing

July 31, 2017
Research led by William Robinson, PhD, Associate Research Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, has found that 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for ...

Scientists divulge latest in HIV prevention

July 25, 2017
A far cry from the 1990s "ABC" campaign promoting abstinence and monogamy as HIV protection, scientists reported on new approaches Tuesday allowing people to have all the safe sex they want.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.