HIV - Preventing it's spread
Current Aids treatment is still expensive and just supresses the virus – it does not cure it. Preventing the spread of HIV is key. A drug that stays in the vagina and kills the virus, on entry as it were, prevents the spread of the disease. IPM, the International Partnership for Microbiocides, has developed a product that does just that. Clinical trials results have just been announced.
STC worked with IPM to improve output from the registered process, reducing unit costs so the product is more affordable in its target market - Africa. The process cannot be changed but the bottlenecks in the porocess can be found and operations can be scaled. The traget was to reduce the current manufacturing price from double figures per unit to single dollars. But theoretical calculations remain just that until the manufacturing is tendered and figures come in as planned. STC ran the tendering process identifying potential contractors until a short list of four were identified. All but one met the target price.
The Economist magazine (July 23rd 2016) describes the product and IPM’s recent clinical triasls.
The ….technique involves silicone rings laced with a drug called dapivirine. These rings, developed under the aegis of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), another charity, sit at the top of the vagina, slowly releasing a pharmacological payload designed to stop the reproduction of any viruses that do find homes in the vaginal wall. At the moment, they last a month, but a three-month version is under development. Two trials which reported earlier this year—one in South Africa and Uganda, and the other in those places plus Malawi and Zimbabwe—suggest the rings work. Follow-up data released at the conference confirm this. A ring’s efficacy is, unsurprisingly, related to how much a woman actually uses it. But for the most diligent it reduced the risk of becoming infected by 75%, compared with control volunteers who did not use such a ring at all. More studies have just been launched, and if all goes well the IPM hopes governments will start approving the rings by 2018.