Health

Breakthrough HIV drug trial reveals biannual injection achieves 100% effectiveness

In addition to Lenacapavir, the trial examined Truvada, a daily PrEP pill that has been widely used for over a decade, and Descovy, a newer pill for the same purpose.

A clinical trial carried out in South Africa and Uganda has shown that a new PrEP (HIV Drug) can radically shield young women from HIV if taken every two months.This study was conducted in Uganda and South Africa, involving close to 5,000 participants and funded by Gilead Sciences; it aimed at assessing the effectiveness of Lenacapavir combined with two other drugs.

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Image Source: Planned Parenthood

Linda-Gail Bekker, a physician-scientist and the principal investigator for the South African segment of the study, shared insights with The Conversation and said “Lenacapavir (Len LA) is a fusion capside inhibitor. It interferes with the HIV capsid, a protein shell that protects HIV’s genetic material and enzymes needed for replication. It is administered just under the skin, once every six months.”

In addition to Lenacapavir, the trial examined Truvada, a daily PrEP pill that has been widely used for over a decade, and Descovy, a newer pill for the same purpose. During the randomised trial, none of the 2,314 women who received the Lenacapavir injection contracted HIV, indicating 100% efficacy. In contrast, 16 of the 1,068 women who took Truvada and 39 of the 2,136 women who received Descovy contracted HIV.

Following the initial success, Bekker stated that the trial will continue, now entering an “open label” phase. She stated “This means that study participants will be “unblinded”: they will be told whether they have been in the “injectable” or oral TDF (Truvada) or oral TAF (Descovy) groups.”

Challenges and Considerations on HIV Drug

“A sister trial is also under way: Purpose 2 is being conducted in a number of regions including some sites in Africa among cisgender men, and transgender and nonbinary people who have sex with men.”

Currently, most persons with HIV have to take lifelong antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus. I have mentioned above that if they decided to stop the given medication, the hidden virus may flare up and cause some issues. This year in January, researchers from the University of Amsterdam claimed they actually managed to purge HIV from infected cells using the Nobel-winning tool – CRISPR.

This technology can work as molecular scissors: the components of its name describe how it works – cutting and inactivation or removal of bad DNA. The researchers now focus on eliminating the virus from the bodies further research needs to be done to assess the efficiency and safety of the given method. 

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