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New Coating for HIV Drug Holds Promise for Patients

VOA blog - pill imageManaging HIV could get a lot easier with a new delivery system for anti-AIDS drugs.

Instead of daily pills, the treatment could lead to drugs that can be administered just once or twice per year.

The new delivery system, designed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, starts with protease inhibitors, the antiretroviral drugs commonly used to treat HIV.  The so-called nanoformulation process makes the drug into a crystal, like an ice cube in water. Then it is coated with fat and protein, like a chocolate-coated ice cream bar.  That protects the drug as it moves through the body and allows the drugs to last much longer potentially months as opposed to days.

The nanoformulated drug was tested with a new drug discovered at the University of Rochester. URMC-099 treats HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, and researchers wanted to know if it could be given safely with antiretroviral drugs.

In laboratory tests with human immune cells and in genetically-engineered mice the scientists were surprised to find the nanoformulated protease inhibitor completely eliminated measurable quantities of HIV. They also found that matching it with URMC-099 greatly prolonged the effects of the anti-HIV drug.

A more effective drug that stays in the systems for a longer period of time could have a big impact in the fight against HIV.  Harris Gelbard, whose laboratory discovered URMC-099 believes “if a drug could be given once every six months or longer, that would greatly increase compliance, reduce side effects and help people manage the disease.”

Details of the combination approach are published in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology & Medicine. Exit Disclaimer

Editor’s note: this research is supported by a grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).