Scientists found a way to insert a cocktail of HIV drugs into one capsule. Thanks to this new breakthrough, HIV patients might soon take their medication once every week and eliminate the strict schedule that so many people are required to follow. The new capsule was developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
People who are infected with HIV have to fight off the virus by taking large amounts of medications. This medication, however, can’t be taken at random, as special schedules are put in place for better efficiency and for maintaining a constant effect. Scientists say that one of the biggest reasons why HIV patients die is that they do not adhere to the schedules.
The latest capsule aims to eliminate that threat. People would need to take the drug once a week after which it would gradually release throughout the week. According to the researchers, this type of delivery system will improve the patients’ adherence to their treatment schedule. The drug can also be used by people who are at risk of HIV exposure.
“The ability to make doses less frequent stands to improve adherence and make a significant impact at the patient level,” said Giovanni Traverso, an MIT research affiliate and lead author of the study.
The capsule consists of six arms where various drugs are loaded and then folded inward. This star-shaped structure is then encased in a smooth coating that dissolves once the pill is swallowed. After taking the capsule, it will unfold its arms and gradually release the drugs. Traverso compared the drug with a pillbox, in that you have a drug chamber for every day of the week.
Researchers first tested the drug on pigs where they noticed that the drug could successfully find its way to the stomach and release three separate HIV drugs over one week. The capsule was developed in such a way that it disintegrates into smaller fragments that can pass through the digestive tract.
The study was published in the journal, Nature Communications.
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