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Innovative Injectable Hydrogel Treatment for HIV – Breakthrough Research Results

Pharmaceutics Magazine – Researchers have developed an injectable solution that can self-assemble into a gel under the right conditions to treat HIV. The role of the gel is to release a safe dose of the anti-HIV drug lamivudine within 6 weeks—different from the daily pill-taking schedule that individuals must follow to prevent AIDS.

Image: HIV Virus – Image credit: Ezume Images | stock.adobe.com Image credit: Ezume Images | stock.adobe.com

The press statement notes that the hydrogel has a agar-like consistency due to its water-absorbing properties. After undergoing self-formulation, the gel remains near the injection site, separating into molecules to fight the virus.

“A major challenge in HIV treatment is the need for lifelong management of the virus, and one way to address this is to reduce dosing frequency to help patients remain adherent to the medical treatment plan,” said Honggang Cui, PhD, a chemical and biomolecular engineer from Johns Hopkins University who led this research. “This new molecular design shows us a future where drug hydrogelation could do just that to improve HIV treatment.”

Cui said that in individuals living with HIV, the goal is to maintain drug levels in the bloodstream that can suppress the viral load in the body. However, this can be difficult because the body naturally rejects these chemicals.

Cui and his team tested the treatment in a test tube that replicated plasma and found that the gel quickly separated into lamivudine molecules. They then injected the gel into the backs of mice and found that one injection was able to maintain effective and prolonged drug concentrations for 42 days with little or no side effects.

“Our goal is to help improve people’s quality of life,” Cui said in a press statement. “Antiviral agents can be injected under the skin and remain in place over an extended period, releasing therapeutic compounds slowly and consistently—an important need for individuals with HIV.”

In the future, the team plans to extend the 42-day period of drug concentration. The press statement notes that the team plans to confirm that the hydrogel can serve as a preventative measure for individuals to avoid HIV infection.

“The most interesting aspect of these gel filaments is that they consist entirely of the therapeutic agent itself,” Cui said in a press statement. “It all comes down to the same compound once injected, and this simplest drug formulation could simplify the regulatory approval process once clinical efficacy is proven.”


Could this new hydrogel make HIV therapy more convenient? EurekAlert!. News release. September 25, 2023. Accessed September 26, 2023.

2024-02-09 16:34:01
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