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Lyndra’s weekly HIV-suppressing treatment works on mice

A new weekly HIV treatment was shown to work in animals in a new study, prompting its manufacturer to begin development of a pill for humans.  

HIV medications can now keep levels of the virus so low in people with the disease that they are undetectable and cannot be transmitted. 

But traditional therapies require taking many potent drugs, or getting frequent injections, so there has been a recent push in the medical community to develop therapies that need to be taken less frequently and from home. 

Massachusetts-based drug manufacturer Lyndra’s most recent test of its treatment found that effective, oral doses of three HIV-fighting compounds could stay in the systems of animals for sustained periods of time, as proof of concept for the drug they are developing. 

A study done in mice showed that Lyndra’s HIV therapy may be an effective, single weekly dose against the virus 

Progress in medications for as well as social awareness and destigmatization of HIV have greatly improved quality of life for those living with it. 

In September of last year, that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that those with undetectable viral loads – or levels of the infection – in their systems are now at ‘effectively no risk’ of transmitting the disease. 

The announcement was celebrated by the HIV positive community and put a sort of seal of approval on the efficacy of modern treatments. 

But, even as life spans continue to stretch for HIV positive people, the disease remains incurable, requiring a lifetime of treatment. 

Perhaps the biggest advancement in HIV treatment to come to market has been a single pill that combines the three key drug compounds used that combat the virus. 

The oral medication has to be taken every day, however, some studies have suggested that missing even two days of the pill can give the virus a window of opportunity to return to detectable levels. 

It is nearly impossible to accurately monitor how well HIV patients stick to their medication regimens, but a National Institutes of Health study done last year linked adherence to visits to care providers, and estimated that only about 57 percent of those who were diagnosed and connected with a provider kept with up with their appointments, suggesting they may not keep up with their medications either. 

‘Because people with HIV require life-long antiretroviral therapy, a long-acting oral option that could be taken at home would make it easier for patients to adhere to their treatment regimen,’ said Dr Andrew Bellinger, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Lyndra. 

He and his team hope that ‘by fitting into a patient’s regular routine, an ultra-long-acting therapy would be taken consistently, improving therapeutic success and helping avoid viral resistance.’ 

In the proof of concept study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers simulated a variety of adherence levels in mice, meaning that they gave different groups of mice their single antiretroviral pill at varying degrees of frequency.

They found that even the mice that were given just one pill a week maintained undetectable levels of the HIV virus. 

This suggest that an equivalent dose for a human could do the same.  

‘Based on these findings, we are developing long-acting oral formulations of HIV therapies that can be commercialized,’ said Dr Bellinger. 

‘We believe these therapies could dramatically improve the probability of treatment success for patients who often forget to take their medicine on time.’