A team of researchers from the UK’s University of Liverpool have used nanotechnology to improve the effectiveness of HIV drug treatment. The trial was the first to use nanomedicine to improve the effectiveness of oral HIV treatments.
While oral treatment with HIV drugs can halt the progression of the disease, drugs need to be taken on a daily basis. The high numbers of pills that must be taken often leads to HIV patients skipping doses, which limits the effectiveness of treatment. The large doses of drugs required can also result in complications, while the manufacture of the drugs is expensive.
The use of nanomedicine – Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SND) technology – can improve absorption of drugs by patients. If drug absorption is more efficient, lower doses of drugs need to be administered. That works better for patients and smaller doses of drugs, coupled with the smaller pill size, significantly reduces the cost of manufacture. That has potential to save health systems and patients money.
The trial was recently conducted on healthy volunteers by the University of Liverpool researchers with assistance from the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London. The team used SND technology to develop two new formulations of the HIV drugs Efavirenz (EFV) and Lopinavir (LPV). EFV is the WHO recommended first line treatment, which is taken by around 70% of HIV-infected individuals in low and middle-income countries. The team discovered that the new nanomedicine resulted in a 50% reduction in drug dose, while maintaining the same therapeutic exposure.
Benny Kottiri, head of the Office of HIV/AIDS Research Division at The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) explained the significance of the results, saying the nanomedicine approach has “potential to reduce the doses required to control the HIV virus even further, resulting in real benefits globally. This would enable the costs of therapy to be reduced which is particularly beneficial for resource-limited countries where the burden of disease is highest.”
The findings of the trial were recently presented at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), one of the world’s leading conferences on HIV research, treatment, and progress.