New Antiretroviral For HIV: Only Two Doses a Year

New Antiretroviral For HIV: Only Two Doses a Year

The latest HIV drugs are created with two important considerations in mind: ease of treatment and effectiveness against viruses that are already resistant to other drugs. In this way, new antiretrovirals such as lenacapavir are being developed.

It is a drug in a new class,  capsid inhibitors (the structure that encases the genetic material of a virus). Lenacapavir acts on this structure, interfering with the production and maturation process of viral particles that infect cells in the immune system.

Since its activity occurs in an area where other antiretrovirals do not work, lenacapavir could be an option for people with HIV who have already developed resistance to one or more of the currently available drugs.

Regarding the treatment scheme, this active substance is administered with a subcutaneous injection every six months, that is, only two doses per year.

A Promising Future

Although according to the spokesperson for the company that produces it (Gilead), the efficacy and safety of this potential treatment have not been established, several studies are in process and the first results have been encouraging, both for people who are just starting their treatment as well as for those who developed drug resistance.

Last March, at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Diseases, a study was presented where it was observed that lenacapavir achieved a significant reduction in viral load (the amount of virus present per milliliter of blood) in people who were resistant to two of the three main classes of HIV drugs, reports the specialized website

A drop in HIV genetic material was detected in 81% of study participants six months after receiving treatment.

On the other hand, early results from another study showed that the research drug is also effective in people taking antiretrovirals for the first time. When combined with a compound of three active substances (Descovy), 94% of patients were able to suppress their viral load at 28 weeks. The final results will be obtained after 54 weeks of study.

The Investigation is not Over Yet

Although the manufacturing company has already requested a review from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Lenacapavir still has a way to go.

It is well known that antiretroviral treatment is made up of several drugs (usually three) that work together to contain HIV. This is why the research teams still have to discover which drugs they can combine this new substance with, in order to achieve the best results.

In addition, there have been some questions about the lack of diversity of the people involved in the studies, for example, the low proportion of people of African descent and of Hispanic heritage. However, research is already underway in men who have sex with men, as well as trans and cisgender women.

Undoubtedly a promising window for the response to HIV, what remains to be seen is, if approved, what will be its cost and if this drug will be able to reach those who need it the most, that is, people from remote communities or immigrants who find it difficult to stock up on antiretrovirals due to their economic conditions and other vulnerabilities. Let’s hope that the pharmaceutical company Gilead does the right thing and its price scheme does not make it an unattainable drug for the majority.

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