University snags $2.6M for HIV nanodrug delivery

The U.K.'s University of Liverpool has bagged a £1.65 million ($2.6 million) grant to develop what could be the first HIV/AIDS nanomedicines, with an aim to create cheaper drugs that are easier to dose, especially to children and babies, and have fewer side effects.

The researchers have created nanoparticles of existing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Formulating drugs as nanoparticles can make the drugs more effective, according to results in other diseases, so the meds could be given at lower doses. This could cut the costs of basic ingredients, as well as reduce the risk of side effects and drug resistance. The new formulations can disperse in water, which will also make them easier to give to children and babies.

Andrew Owen of the University of Liverpool said: "Our data so far looks really exciting, offering the potential to reduce the doses required to control HIV. This … could have real benefits for the safety of ARVs globally. Importantly, we also hope to reduce the costs of therapy for resource-limited countries where the burden of disease is highest."

The university is planning to test the formulation in healthy volunteers, and then IOTA NanoSolutions, a spinoff from Unilever R&D and the university's collaboration partner, will continue studies in people with HIV/AIDS, including children in developing countries.

- read the press release