Antiretroviral therapy (ART) intramuscularly administered may have the same effectiveness as current oral treatments. This is the main conclusion of the Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 centers around the world – 9 in Spain – to which the team of Dr. Daniel Podzamczer, principal investigator of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and Chief of the HIV and STD Unit of the Infectious Diseases Service of Bellvitge University hospital (HUB) has contributed. The results of the trial, published by the prestigious journal The Lancet, pave the way to the implantation of all-injectable antiretroviral therapies with a lower frequency of administration, which would imply a significant improvement of the quality of life of HIV patients.
In the study, which involved 286 patients with previously suppressed viral loads, the effectiveness of the combination of carbotegravir – a new inegrase inhibitor – and rilpivirine – a no nucleoside – injected intramuscularly every 4 or 8 weeks was tested in comparison to standard maintenance therapy, which includes three orally-administered drugs: carbotegravir and abacavir – lamivudine.
“This is the first time that all-injectable ART has been used in a trial; In addition, it consists of only 2 drugs, something that is not new but that supports the paradigm shift of 3 to 2 drugs in some virologically suppressed patients”, says Dr. Podzamczer. The injected drugs are nanoparticles, which allows them to have a longer half-life of several weeks.
After 96 weeks, researchers found that 87% of patients in the group treated every 4 weeks and 94% in the one treated every 8 weeks maintained viral load suppression, a better figure than the one achieved in the standard oral treatment group, a 84%.