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The LONGEVITY project aims to develop long-acting formulations for malaria and TB prevention, and a single-injection cure for hepatitis C
90% of malaria infections and deaths, 95% of TB infections and deaths, and 75% of people living with HCV live in low- and middle-income countries.
The project will transform treatments that already exist in pill form 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 uses Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) technology that was recently spun-out of the University as Tandem Nano Ltd, to develop formulations for malaria, TB and HCV which can be dispersed for administration as long acting injections.
Instead of giving the hundreds of orally dosed pills per year, a single injection into the muscle or the subcutaneous tissue between the upper layers of the skin and the muscle, is designed to gradually release drugs into the bloodstream over a period of between one and six months.
"My feeling is that we are witnessing a change in the paradigm for treatment of chronic diseases, but also semi-chronic disease," said Andrew Owen, professor of pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, where the LONGEVITY project will take place. Owen gave the example of how a long-acting formulation could work for malaria prevention: "The hope is that the medicines will enable entire villages across high-burden countries to be effectively protected from acquiring malaria for the entire duration of the rainy season. We also hope huge benefits will be available for TB prevention and HCV therapy, focusing on high-risk groups across low- and middle-income countries."
Geneva - Unitaid will invest US$ 39 million in two projects to speed up the development of long-acting versions of medicines for low- and middle-income countries. Innovative ways to administer drugs, which have revolutionized contraception and the treatment of schizophrenia, could redefine prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, but remain at early stages of research because of market barriers.
Unitaid today signed a US$ 32 million grant with the University of Liverpool and a US$ 6.9 million grant with the University of Washington to help develop and commercialize long-acting medicines for HIV, TB, malaria and hepatitis C (HCV). Unitaid has invested heavily in creating better, more affordable medicines and making them accessible; the new investments build on that work by making more efficient ways for patients to take them. "We see an enormous potential in this technology for changing people's lives," Unitaid Deputy Executive Director Philippe Duneton said.
University of Washington's four-year GLAD project will transform combination HIV pill regimens that contain the drug dolutegravir into an injectable that lasts from one to three months. The goal is to develop an effective, long-acting alternative to the daily pill that is now the standard of care.
• Call for Proposals: Accelerating impact of long-acting technologies in low- and middle-income countries

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