TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary research
suggests that a patch could deliver an AIDS drug to patients, but
it's too early to know if it could work in animals, let alone
Still, the findings raise the prospect of a simple way to
administer AIDS drugs, which patients don't always take as they
should. Patches could be worn for seven days, and an author of the
new study said it would add only a fraction of a cent to the cost
of the drug itself.
"We are encouraged by these results, and we're ready to go to the next stage of developments," said lead researcher Anthony Ham, director of formulations with the pharmaceutical research company ImQuest BioSciences. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The researchers successfully used transdermal patches to
administer 96 percent of an AIDS drug to simulated skin over a
week, Ham said. The AIDS drug, which is under development, is not
available to the public.
"These patches require a low cost to manufacture, have a high rate of release and are able to inhibit HIV infection," Ham said. The next step is to test the patches in animals.
Patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, don't need to
cope with the complicated regimens of earlier years that required
them to take multiple pills at different times throughout the day.
Now, about 70 percent of newly treated patients in the United
States take a single pill a day, while patients in other parts of
the world may take one pill twice a day, said Rowena Johnston,
director of research with the Foundation for AIDS Research.
"Still, the important limitation of pills, regardless of how few there are or even how minimal the side effects, is adherence," Johnston noted. Research has shown that many patients, if not most, don't take their pills all the time.
"The huge potential advantage of a patch, depending on how long it secretes the right level of drug, is the ability to maintain the right level of the drug without the fluctuations observed when adherence to pills is less than perfect," Johnston said.
A patch could also be an effective way to provide medication
that prevents people from getting HIV in the first place, she
Still, "there's a long way to go between what appears to be
promising findings now and a patient's skin," she said. While
patches have long been used in other kinds of medicine, researchers
will still need to launch studies to test their safety and figure
out if they work, she said. "The concept is a good one, but I
wonder whether there are fundamental difficulties behind nobody
else having successfully developed these before."
The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the American
Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists annual meeting in
Washington, D.C. Research presented at medical meetings has to be
viewed as preliminary because it has not gone through the peer
review process required by medical journals.
For more about
AIDS, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.