Researchers at MIT and women’s Hospital have developed a capsule that can have a week quantity of HIV drugs in just one dose. This advanced step could make it easier for patients to follow the inflexible schedule of the required amount of drugs that contain a mix of medications to fight the virus.

2A pillbox in a capsule

Even though the total fatality rate of HIV has lowered greatly since the introduction of antiretroviral therapies in the 1990s, there were 2.1 million new HIV infections in healthy communities.

These tests have had mixed success, and one major difficulty treatment is the difficulty in getting people to take the vital pills as scheduled.

The MIT/BWH team think that their capsule looks like a star with six arms which can be filled with drugs, after swallowed, the arms open and slowly free their content.

In a previous research, the researchers found that these capsules could stay in the stomach for up to two weeks, releasing step by step it’s malaria drug ivermectin. The researchers then go to adapt the capsule to transfer HIV medication.

The entire star was made from one polymer which made it more difficult to produce new capsules that would release drugs at varying rates, because any changes to the polymer structure might not go in the right direction.

To beat that, the researchers developed an updated version in which the spine of the star form is still persistent polymer.

Yet each one of these six arms can be filled with totally different drug.  This make it much easier to design a capsule that releases drugs at different rates.

“In a way, it’s like putting a pillbox in a capsule. Now you have chambers for every day of the week on a single capsule.” Traverso Says.

They already test it in pigs and it showed that the capsules were able to effectively lodge in the stomach and release three different HIV drugs over one week.

The capsules are developed so that after all this done rightly, the capsule shrink into smaller until it can pass though the digestive tract.

Daniel Kurtizkes, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and women’s Hospital, says that with further safety studies and tests of different drug combinations, this approach could provide another tool to help doctors treat HIV infections and prevent new ones.

“it’s a very interesting approach and certainly something that’s worth further development, and potentially human trials to see how workable this is” says Kuritzkes, who was not involved in the research.


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