‘Mini pill box’ that stays in stomach for a week could vastly slow HIV infection

Author: Dave Chambers

US scientists say they have found a way to prevent between 200‚000 and 800‚000 new HIV infections in SA over the next 20 years.

A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a “mini pill box” that stays in the stomach for a week‚ delivering a long-lasting dose of antiretroviral medication.

By simulating the dynamics of HIV and patient drug-adherence patterns in SA‚ the MIT team — which published its research in the journal Nature Communications — showed that the invention could reduce therapeutic failures and prevent thousands of new HIV cases.

“These slow-release dosage systems perform equal or better than the current daily doses for HIV treatment in preclinical models‚” said MIT gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer Giovanni Traverso.

Nonadherence to medication regimens is a major challenge in the fight against HIV‚ and clinical trials have shown that only 30% of patients stick to their dosages.

Traverso’s team developed a capsule that unfolds its six arms into a star-shaped structure in the stomach‚ making it too large to pass through the pylorus — the connection between the stomach and the small intestine. At the same time‚ it allows food to continue passing through the digestive system.

The capsule contains polymers and other materials to allow drugs to diffuse out slowly over time‚ and each of its six arms can dispense a different drug.

The MIT team investigated delivering the antiretrovirals dolutegravir‚ rilpivirine and cabotegravir for HIV prevention among noninfected patients and for viral suppression among those infected.

Researchers tested the concentration profiles for each of the doses over time in a pig model‚ and measured the presence of each drug in the bloodstream in the week following ingestion.

They are now working to scale up and validate results from preclinical models to translate the potential therapy to human patients.

Source: Business Day