Could nanotechnology help improve HIV therapies?

Research presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (13–16 February, Seattle, WA, USA) has reported successful results from trials investigating nanotechnology to improve drug therapies for HIV patients. This has the potential to reduce the doses required to control HIV, decreasing costs and improving treatment regimens.

The study, led by the University of Liverpool (Liverpool, UK), examined the use of nanotechnology to improve the delivery of HIV drugs. The trial enrolled healthy volunteers to investigate novel nanoparticle formulations for two common antiretroviral drugs, efavirenz and lopinavir.

Current daily therapies can lead to side effects and chronic oral dosing can cause poor adherence to the treatment regimen. Researchers hope that nanomedicine alternatives will require lower doses and therefore have a reduced cost, which is particularly beneficial for low- and middle-income countries with high HIV burden.  In addition, recent evaluation in HIV patients has highlighted a willingness to switch to nanomedicine alternatives if benefits can be demonstrated, making this a promising field.

The team focused on novel oral therapies, they administered efavirenz and lopinavir utilizing solid drug nanoparticle technology, which has previously been demonstrated to improve drug absorption in the body.  The trial confirmed that the team could reduce the drug dose by up to 50% whilst still maintaining sufficient therapeutic exposure.

Benny Kottiri, from the government agency USAIDs (Washington DC, USA), commented: “The potential applications for HIV treatment are incredibly promising. By aligning efforts, these integrated investments offer the 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.”



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