Kenya is on the global map yet again and all for riveting reasons. This is after a US-based Kenyan scientist unveiled the world’s first antiretroviral (ARV) drug that is to be taken once-a-year.
Prof Benson Edagwa and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center achieved this by modifying an existing ARV drug – cabotegravir – to enable the body to absorb and release it slowly from tissues over 12 months.
Prof Edagwa, who designed and produced the required modifications of the new product says the new formulation will be given as an injection once a year.
The discovery means people living with HIV will not have to take drugs daily, as it is the case at the moment. The new drug according to the scientists, could also act as a vaccine for healthy people who take it and have unprotected sex.
It’s however, not a cure for HIV/Aids.
Prof Edagwa, a former Moi University chemistry student, co-developed the new formulation with Prof Howard Gendelman, a virologist and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience at UNMC.
Edagwa, a native of Vihiga, works as an assistant professor in the department. The two scientists have tested the new drug on mice and non-human primates and found it safe and effective.
“To date, no adverse side effects have been demonstrated in any of the animal testing models,” the University of Nebraska Medical School said in a statement.
The new product has the potential to eliminate complications that arise from missing doses.