What about MPTs? Looking back at 2020, looking ahead to 2021

This past year has been an exceptionally challenging one, with the devastating coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and other global crises affecting populations around the world. While recognizing the tremendous loss and setbacks that these crises have caused, here at the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (IMPT) we have also been deeply inspired by humanity’s resilience, solidarity, and drive to pursue innovative solutions and call for equity and justice to uphold the human right to health and safety.

We’ve been fortunate to continue partnering with all the incredible members of our IMPT Learning Network to realize the mission of bringing multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs)—products designed to prevent a combination of HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and/or unintended pregnancy—to the hands of women. We are also optimistic about the promising results from recent HIV prevention approaches for women and their positive implications for MPTs. The MPT field can only advance successfully through our collaborative efforts.

In acknowledgement of these collective efforts, we want to take a few minutes to rewind the year to share critical accomplishments for the MPT field as well as from the IMPT Secretariat.

To address the need for non-hormonal contraceptive MPT options identified through our work in collaboration with network partners, the IMPT Secretariat and partners published a paper that discusses seven strategic action areas to guide the development of MPTs combining non-hormonal contraception and infection prevention. Also in collaboration with network partners, we published a paper recommending rigorous benchmarks to evaluate and advance promising pre-clinical MPT product candidates into the hands of women. A focus of our work in 2021 will include operationalizing these recently identified action areas and gaps.

In other exciting news, the IMPT completed its annual update of the MPT product pipeline database, which now features 24 actively funded MPT product candidates under development. We also launched our new webinar discussion series called “Let’s Talk MPTs” in order to help address the priority MPT action areas identified in our latest publications and to stimulate conversations across our learning network on topics such as the vaginal microbiome, toxicity studies, sociobehavioral and market research, and market introduction. We’re also working to coordinate a follow up discussion on the vaginal microbiome due to the impressive interest from the IMPT network. More information to come on future webinars in the series.

Late this year, we also helped to facilitate networking opportunities to support the development of up-and-coming professionals in the reproductive health space—especially for MPTs. The platform we created, in the framework of the annual meeting of The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Contraceptive Research Branch (CRB), brought together academic researchers, government-based leaders and officials, entrepreneurs, postdoctoral researchers, graduate trainees, and more, to help build a diverse next generation of contraceptive and MPT researchers. Our curated list of career exploration and development resources is now available to all our partners. Stemming from this experience, we plan to organize additional networking opportunities for our learning network partners in the coming months.

Furthermore, we’re excited to bring back our “MPT Insider” newsletters, previously called “MPTs: Articles from the Field.” Starting January 2021, you will be receiving this newsletter from us every other month. Make sure to browse our MPT Insider – December 2020 Edition to learn about new opportunities to expand and showcase your MPT work, including the HIVR4P 2021 agenda that features several MPT sessions and poster presentations.

It has been a year of new achievements and successful partnerships in the MPT field and for the IMPT. As we jump into a fresh start in 2021, we are excited to continue bringing you the latest updates, trends, resources, and opportunities in the MPT field. We hope you will take advantage of the promising MPT activities and opportunities already on the horizon for 2021. Join our IMPT mailing list to keep apprised of new opportunities that will support your MPT work!