Antiretroviral Solution – Fighting HIV with a Weekly Pill

Antiretroviral Solution – Fighting HIV with a Weekly Pill

Years of professional studies on antiretroviral therapies and drugs gave HIV/AIDS patients hope that someday, the experts will finally find a solution to the disease that threatens their lives as well as their loved ones’.

From the statistics of 2.1 million reported deaths in the 1990s, the number of HIV/AIDS deaths is cut in half and is now at 1.2 million. Now, those years of extensive studies gave birth to a powerful pill that will solve the problem of drugs and therapy failure due to poor adherence.

When a person has to take a daily pill, there is higher probability that he or she will not be able to take a pill in some days. It is even one of the major hindrances why conducting studies to find out the effectiveness of a particular drug is the subjects’ adherence. Skipping a dose messes up the results of the studies. Simply put, low adherence rate results to inaccurate observation results as well as lower success rate of the drug. But, with a weekly pill, there’s a slimmer chance for such incident. As a result, it will increase the success rate of the drug.

Studies also show that when skipping doses is prevented, infection cases are projected to diminish by 800,000 in twenty years. It also means increased chance for an HIV/AIDS patient to live longer.

The experts at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the professional researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by MIT Professor Robert Langer and Traverso came up with the weekly pill makes it easier for HIV/AIDS patients especially because these patients usually have to take multiple kinds of medication everyday. They also work with the paper’s lead authors Omar Abouzid, MIT’s Ameya Kirtane, and Lyndra scientists. Brigham’s Women Hospital, Brigham’s Gastroenterology Department, the National Institutes of Health, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Global Good Fund funded the study.

Even better news is that this weekly pill does not fight HIV/AIDS exclusively but can also help patients fight other kinds of diseases. The weekly pill, which actually started to exist in 2016, is like a star with six polymer arms. Each arm is folded inward and each arm is designed to release a dose of the drug in different rates so the patient will still get their daily dose for six days.

This weekly pill was tested on pigs and proves to function just as it was designed. Once the contents of the pill are all released, the capsule disintegrates so that the patient’s body can get rid of it through his or her digestive tract easily.

Professionals are looking into this discovery and how it can also be used to treat other kinds of illnesses. They are also looking for ways on how to increase the number of doses and how to increase the time before the polymer arms release the drug doses.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New drug capsule may allow weekly HIV treatment: Replacing daily pills with a weekly regimen could help patients stick to their dosing schedule." ScienceDaily, 9 January 2018.

Written by Mark Riegel, MD

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