Bill and Melinda Gates are now backing a tiny implantable drug pump designed to prevent HIV infection

Friday, January 6, 2017

In sub-Saharan Africa, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an epidemic that shows no signs of relenting. In 2013, an estimated 24.7 million people in the region were living with HIV, accounting for 71% of the global total. Worldwide, 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2015, according to UNAIDS.

While the disease cannot be cured, it can be prevented from spreading through a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), where people who are at a very high risk for HIV can take HIV medicines daily to lower the chances of becoming infected.

“PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently.” A daily dose of PrEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Getting patients to take the drug daily, a problem with most chronic diseases, is critical for preventing HIV effectively.

Hoping to address this issue, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $140 million to help Intarcia Therapeutics, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company, develop a tiny implantable drug pump.

Source: Quartz (link opens in a new window)

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