In what could be among the most promising development in AIDS care since protease inhibitors, David Ho, MD, opened the United States Conference on AIDS this morning with news of a promising pre-exposure prophylactic, a PreP antiviral that could be given as an injection every eight weeks.
Ho, head of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in Manhattan and a professor at Rockefeller University, was the keynote speaker at the conference, held in Hollywood, FL.
Work on a drug called cabotegravir (ViiV Healthcare) originally a Glaxo Smith Kline product originally known as GSK744 is about to enter US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) phase 3 trials, Ho said.
“It will be a slow-release drug, may be available in a few months,” Ho said.
The substance is metabolized slowly and it the researchers discovered hat it could also be put into suspension as crystals. Injected into a muscle “it leaches out slowly,” Ho explained.
The studies completed so far were done with macaque monkeys.
Sixteen monkeys were divided into two groups.
Both were given HIV virus rectally. One group was injected with the drug.
In the monkeys that got the drug, there were no HIV infections a the eight-week point.
In a second group of monkeys, all female, the virus was introduced vaginally.
They did not do quite as well but there was a protective effect.
The third test involved infecting the animals intravenously. That group also was protected by the experimental drug.
The drug is also in human trials and has a good tolerability profile, Ho said, with no side effects reported.
If the drug continues to prove it is effective in trials with men who have sex with men and in women in Africa, “My hope is that a future USCA conference we will be talking about its highly protective efficacy.”