The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) links up with the University of Liverpool to develop HIV nanomedicines

Partnership includes an MPP licence for the university's Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) technology

United Nations-backed public health organisation the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has announced a collaboration and licensing agreement with the University of Liverpool to reformulate certain poorly soluble HIV drugs into lower dose formulations for low and middle income countries.

The MPP has received a licence for the university's patented Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) technology to accelerate the development of WHO-recommended antiretrovirals (ARVs) as nanomedicines.

Under the terms of the agreement, the University of Liverpool will develop nanoparticles of ARVs licensed to the MPP such as atazanavir, darunavir and lopinavir to improve their solubility and thus reduce dosage.

The MPP and the University of Liverpool will work with pharmaceutical partners for product development and industrial scale-up. The MPP will then sub-license the nano-formulated ARVs and facilitate competitive manufacturing to spur distribution of the new medicines in low- and middle-income countries.

The agreement covers a territory of 135 low- and middle-income countries and two high-income countries in Africa.

Dose reduction can lead to easier administration and potentially fewer side effects for people living with HIV

Greg Perry, Executive Director of the MPP, said: 'This partnership seeks to help meet new international HIV scale-up targets through the delivery of better-adapted low-dose medicines at a significant price reduction.'

Janet Beer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, added: 'We are thrilled the MPP has joined us to develop medicines based on SDN technology and to ensure that once developed, they will reach people who need them the most in developing countries.'

The University of Liverpool's nanotechnology programme aims to overcome some of the challenges of antiretroviral treatment today, including poor solubility and the need to administer large doses to ensure that enough of the drug is absorbed into the body to be effective. With an initial grant from the Research Council UK, University of Liverpool researchers have reformulated two HIV medicines to date and expect to conduct human trials of some of the first oral HIV nanomedicines during December. Currently, there are no HIV nanomedicines on the market.

'Dose reduction can lead to easier administration and potentially fewer side effects for people living with HIV,' said Professor Andrew Owen from the University's Department of Pharmacology who is leading the research.

'Smaller oral pills also facilitate lower production costs of active pharmaceutical ingredients, which could slash treatment bills and allow health ministries to provide treatment to more people.'

To date, the MPP has signed agreements with six patent holders for 12 HIV antiretrovirals and for one hepatitis C direct-acting antiviral. Its generic partners have distributed more than three billion doses of low-cost medicines to 117 countries.

The MPP is a United Nations-backed public health organisation wholly funded by UNITAID.

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