Houston Methodist Receives Award for Implantable HIV Drug Delivery Device

The Houston Methodist Research Institute’s department of nanomedicine is the recipient of this year’s AIDS Foundation Houston Shelby Hodge Vision Award. Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., nanomedicine department chair at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, accepted the award during the World AIDS Day luncheon award ceremony.

Grattoni is testing a transcutaneous, refillable nanofluidic implant that administers pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs to subjects at risk of HIV-exposure. Grattoni was awarded a multi-million dollar grant this year from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to enhance the nanochannel delivery system (nDS), which provides sustained and constant release of drugs without the use of pumps, valves or a power supply.

The device successfully released tenofovir alafenamide as a preventive, pre-exposure prophylaxis over 21 days in pilot studies. The NIAID-funded research aims for larger nanochannels in the nDS to allow for a 60-day drug delivery.

Grattoni, also director of the Center of Space Nanomedicine at Houston Methodist,expects the device will be tested during three of 10 research projects planned aboard the International Space Station over the next five years.

Many high-risk patients already take Truvada, a combination therapy of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine to help prevent HIV-1 infection. However, the Centers for Disease Control says poor patient adherence is an ongoing challenge. Grattoni’s implantable device achieves sustained drug delivery by controlling diffusion through nanochannel membranes engineered to be close to the size of the drug molecules being released. The nDS is implanted just under the skin and refilled through a port as needed. If successful, the research will next move into patient clinical trials.

The World Health Organization estimated nearly 37 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, and approximately 2 million newly-infected people worldwide, in 2014.

Story by Newswise

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