FROM THE PIPELINE | Taking on a challenge – How an ambitious engineering goal led to an innovative MPT for HIV, HSV, and unintended pregnancy
Published: August 1, 2018
It all started with the simple realization that women seeking protection against HIV also want to prevent unintended pregnancies. In general, they also prefer a combined method. Then followed the innovation challenge: Engineer a long-acting intravaginal ring that could release two chemically diverse drugs – one for HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV) prevention, and one for contraception – at sustained, controlled, and yet extremely different release rates (up to 1000-fold) for 3 months; make it suitable and scalable for use in resource-limited countries, such as those of sub-Saharan Africa; and design it so women would want to use it. Even now it’s a daunting task. When this project began, 10 years ago, its feasibility was questioned by many, including our collaborators and ourselves. However, if successful, this challenge had strong potential to provide a truly game-changing MPT solution to a dire unmet need for women globally.