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Bill Gates Invests $140 Million On HIV Prevention Implants

Update Date: Jan 05, 2017 09:20 AM EST
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Bill Gates HIV Implant
Bill Gates is investing $140 million on a new HIV prevention implant being developed by Intarcia Therapeutics Inc. (Photo : JP Yim/Getty Images)

Bill Gates, through his The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is backing up a new subdermal implant, called the Medici Drug Delivery System, which aims to prevent Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. He invested $140 million on Intarcia Therapeutics Inc.'s project of developing the implant.

People who are at a high risk of contracting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can significantly lower their chances of infection with a daily pill called PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis. However, many individuals can't stick to the regimen. Now, Boston-based scientists are developing an implant that would release a regular dose of the pill.

"With Medici, and each of our new once- or twice-yearly therapies, we're aiming to solve some of the biggest unmet needs in the treatment and prevention of major chronic diseases that impact millions and millions of lives every day," Kurt Graves, Chairman, President and CEO of Intarcia Therapeutics, Inc., said in a press release.

The matchstick-size pump can hold six or 12 months' supply of the medicine and is designed to deliver microdoses on a regular basis, Fox News reports. This is to ensure that the patients will stay on the treatment, compared to drinking one pill per day.

The implant could show promise in the reduction of HIV infections worldwide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the highest HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) burden exists.

"Currently there is no effective HIV vaccine and anti-retroviral drugs that protect against HIV infection are only available in the form of a daily pill," Emilio Emini, director of the Gates Foundation's HIV programs, told Huffington Post.

"Intarcia's implantable Medici Drug Delivery System, which could be used to deliver long-acting anti-retroviral drugs, has the potential to solve current adherence challenges and help more people protect themselves from HIV infection," he added.

People who might benefit from the long-term HIV prevention implant are those who are in a relationshop with someone infected with HIV, those who aren't in mutually monogamous relationships, people who engage in unprotected sex with partners of unknown HIV status and those who use injectable drugs.

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