Medicine for people with HIV for once a year

New drug would benefit people with HIV

NEW YORK (HealthDay News) .— Researchers have reformulated an HIV drug into a version they hope can be taken only once a year.

The work is in its initial stages, when it has already been studied in laboratory animals. But the goal is to create a drug for the AIDS virus that is injected annually to give protection or control.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha took the drug cabotegravir, which is developed for the prevention and treatment of HIV and is designed to be administered every one to two months.

Scientists chemically modified it to make it a “prodrug,” that is, an inert substance that, once inside the body, takes an active form. Conversion happens gradually; in laboratory animals the drug was released for up to one year.

The findings, which are published in the journal “Nature Materials”, are only an initial step, so much remains to be done.

“We haven’t studied it in humans yet,” says Howard Gendelman, director of the Nebraska Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, adding that it is difficult to predict how long it would take to advance.

“We are giving a new use to a medicine that other people invented,” he explains. Transferring it to human trials will involve “multiple facets”.

“The main problem we face is compliance,” admits Dr. Melanie Thompson, former president of the HIV Medicine Association.

Taking pills daily for life “is not easy,” he adds. People may simply forget to do it or not take the medications on a trip. You may also run out of pills or be unable to pay for them.

However, he warns that safety is especially important in a drug that remains in the body for a long period of time. “If you take it and it doesn’t go well, you can’t get rid of it,” he says.

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