A Pill That Lasts for a Week!
Cutting edge research from MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has discovered a new way to deliver HIV medicine. They designed a new type of capsule that can deliver a certain dosage of medicine for over a week. This discovery makes it easier for patients to stay consistent with treatment and is beneficial to the patient because less frequent doses improves adherence.
How Does it Work?
The idea stemmed off of another older study using similar capsules to gradually release ivermectin, the malaria drug. This type of capsule could stay in the stomach for as long as two weeks! The new version the researchers designed is a star structure with a specific backbone that has six arms. Different drug-loaded polymers can fill each of the six arms. “In a way, it’s like putting a pillbox in a capsule. Now you have chambers for every day of the week on a single capsule,” Traverso says. These capsules were tested on pigs, and fortunately worked perfectly. The capsules were able to release three different HIV medications over a period of one week and then disintegrated and passed through their digestive tract.
Why is it Important?
The significant drop in mortality rate of HIV since the 1990’s shouldn’t stop researcher from striving to end the epidemic. In 2005 there were 1.2 million HIV-related deaths and 2.1 million new HIV infections. Antiretroviral drugs have been tested in multiple trials to see if they can prevent HIV infection in healthy populations. Although the success in theses trials is mixed, a constant obstacle in this treatment is having people stay consistent with taking the pills.
Researchers have also attempted to predict the efficiency and benefits of a weekly drug. They determined that switching from a daily dose to a weekly dose could potentially improve the efficiency by 20%! The prediction also showed that over the next 20 years, 200,000 to 800,000 new infections could be prevented in South Africa! Could this new drug capsule help solve this problem and potentially other dosage problems with other diseases? Could it be the start to new universal dosage methods? This article sparked my interest because the HIV epidemic is something discussed a lot in the 21st century, however there haven’t been many groundbreaking discoveries. Coming across this article gave me hope for the future of medicine and curing this epidemic!