August 09, 2015
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NIH awards $17.5 million grant for HIV prevention implant

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The NIH has awarded a $17.5 million grant to researchers at Northwestern Medicine for the development of an implantable drug delivery system capable of preventing HIV for up to 1 year, according to a press release.

“Technology like this could be an important tool in fighting the global HIV/AIDS pandemic in the U.S. and in low-income countries,” Patrick F. Kiser, PhD, of the department of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University, said in a press release.

The researchers will use the 5-year NIH grant to deliver the investigational ART cabotegravir (ViiV Healthcare) to patients in a controlled manner, according to the release. The use of an implantable device would counteract issues of patient adherence.

“Long-acting systems have the great advantage of not requiring repeated modification of behavior,” Kiser said. “With implants or injectable systems that deliver antiretroviral drugs, a person no longer has to worry about contracting HIV for a relatively long period of time.”

Researchers from multiple institutions at Northwestern will test two additional drug delivery platforms, according to the release, with the most promising to be chosen for further development.

“This can provide a way to protect high-risk individuals while we wait for the development of a protective vaccine,” Thomas J. Hope, PhD, of Northwestern Medicine, said in the release.