A HIV drug which could stop the daily intake of anti-retroviral drugs to battle the virus load in patients has been successfully produced.
Against the background of daily antiretroviral medication for people living with HIV, researchers at the MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States (U.S.) had developed a capsule that can deliver a week’s worth of HIV drugs in a single dose.
According to the researchers, the new capsule was designed so that patients can take it just once a week and the drug will release gradually throughout the week.
When this drug becomes available for people living with HIV (PLWH), it will end the current practice in which antiretroviral (ART) medications were taken daily by affected persons. The star-shaped structure of this capsule was designed to stay in the stomach for a week and be released gradually.
The structure unfolds once the pill reaches the stomach and its coating starts to dissolve. It’s quite big, measuring 1.5 inches (4 cm), but the benefits should outweigh the discomfort. Although, the new drug shows promise when tested on pigs, human testing could start within a couple of years, the researchers affirmed.
This new development will go a long way in tackling the inconvenience of taking ART daily, a situation that makes some PLWH not to adhere to their medication. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended that people living with HIV should take ART drugs, which will not cure the infection, but may allow the person stay healthy for a long time. The treatment can help prevent spreading the infection to other people.
Even with such high stakes, however, some still find it difficult to strictly respect the ART and take the drug when they should. Based on this, the new drug capsule for HIV treatment could be a real game-changer, the ‘sciencedaily’ reported. Despite medical advances and developments that make it easier to manage and prevent the virus from wreaking havoc, no fewer than 2.1 million people contracted HIV in 2015 and 1.2 million deaths related to HIV occurred the same year.
Nigeria ranks as the country with the second largest HIV burden globally, with 3.5 million living with the virus. A major problem Nigeria currently faces is inability to provide ART for those that require the drug to live.
Researchers highlight that these figures “underscore the need to bridge the gap between availability of effective ARTS and efficient disease control.
“Lack of medication adherence to ART has emerged as a key barrier to successful HIV treatment and prevention,” the study further points out. On average, the adherence rate to long-term ART was roughly 70 per cent, which affects the success of the treatment. If ART treatment would not require daily discipline, maybe the adherence rates would be higher, in turn increasing the success of the whole treatment.
A slow-release tablet could relieve HIV patients from having to take their medication every single day. Successful tests in pigs indicated that the capsule works even if taken once a week, but more tests were necessary, the researchers said.