Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute were awarded a nearly $4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study a transcutaneously refillable implant that delivers pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs to people who are at risk of being exposed to HIV.
The grant was awarded to Alessandro Grattoni and will run for 5 years. Grattoni and his team will be looking at ways to improve a nanochannel delivery system that can deliver the drugs without using pumps, valves or power supplies.
As chair of the Department of Nanomedicine at the institute, Grattoni has previous experience and success in pilot studies of the device that has shown it can release tenofovir alafenamide as a preventive, pre-exposure prophylaxis over 21 days.
The next step in the study is to shoot for bigger nanochannels in the device that would cover up to a 60-day delivery.
Currently, high-risk patients take Truvada, a combination therapy of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine to help prevent HIV infection. Yet, the Centers for Disease Control points to poor patient adherence as a challenge to battling the virus.
The device under study at Houston Methodist is implantable and can deliver sustained dosage by controlling diffusion through nanochannel membranes engineered to be close to the size of the drug molecules being released. The device is implanted just under the skin and refilled through a port.
According to the the World Health Organization, in 2014 about 37 million people globally have HIV/AIDS with an estimated 2 million considered newly-infected people.
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