News & Views
Long-acting Formulations Approach could make Medicines easier to take
Feb 18 2020
Unitaid, an international organisation supporting new health solutions to meet global challenges has awarded the University of Liverpool more than £24.5 million ($32m) as part of a £30.5 million ($40m) global research consortium project to develop new medicines for low and middle-income countries.
The LONGEVITY project aims to develop long-acting formulations for malaria and TB prevention and a single-injection cure for hepatitis C, diseases that disproportionately affect children, poor and marginalised communities, people who use drugs and HIV co-infected populations. Using Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) technology developed by Liverpool spin-out Tandem Nano Ltd, existing treatments in pill-form will be developed into long-acting injectable formulations that need to be taken far less often making key drugs much easier for patients to take and for clinicians to administer. This approach repositions existing drugs and is therefore less complex than drug discovery to create fundamentally new medicines.
The project will be co-ordinated by Andrew Owen, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool. Steve Rannard, Professor of Chemistry at the University will lead the materials science and Saye Khoo, Professor of Pharmacology will lead phase I clinical trials for TB at Liverpool. LONGEVITY also involves critical partners in Johns Hopkins University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Treatment Action Group, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Medicine Patent Pool and Tandem Nano Ltd.
Professor Owen, said: “Our project aims to develop revolutionary long-acting medicines for infectious diseases that have a major burden across low- and middle-income countries. Although drugs exist for malaria and TB prevention and HCV therapy, they rely on individuals taking medication daily. Chronic oral dosing is extremely difficult to maintain over long periods leading to non-adherence that can negatively impact efficacy and exacerbate emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
As part of their research the team will also establish a Centre of Excellence in Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT) at the University of Liverpool so that broad understanding of technologies and how to use them best can be disseminated widely to global stakeholders.
Professor Rannard added: “The combination of a range of disciplines is critical to the creation of real-world impact and future therapies that can tackle the biggest healthcare issues facing the world. Through LONGEVITY and CELT we will have teams that span life sciences, clinical sciences and physical sciences focussed on clear goals that address unmet patient needs. We are hugely grateful to Unitaid for having the confidence to fund our ambitious programme.”
Kate Hencher, a Unitaid program manager involved in the new project, said: “Long-acting technologies hold the potential for greatly improving patients’ adherence, which should lead to a greater number of successful treatments, less spread of diseases and fewer preventable deaths.
“Also, from a supply-chain perspective, it’s super exciting. Instead of bottles and bottles and bottles and bottles of pills, you would have a box load of injections and then, somewhere down the line you might be replacing that with a little box of plasters that could be a three-month’ supply of HIV treatments for an entire community. That’s where this is going. That’s how big it is.”
Unitaid Deputy Executive Director Philippe Duneton added: “We see an enormous potential in this technology for transforming people’s lives.”
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