£2.2m collaboration to develop new approaches for HIV therapy

A collaboration between the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSM) has been awarded a further £2.2m ($3) to develop sophisticated new medicines for HIV.

The researchers have received the award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to generate new technologies for long-acting administration of antiretroviral drugs. Conventional therapies rely on oral dosing and tablets which weigh heavily on many patients, with missed doses contributing to the development of viral resistance.

The research in Liverpool, conducted by the cross-Faculty Nanomedicine Partnership led by Pharmacologist Professor Andrew Owen and Materials Chemist Professor Steve Rannard, will further examine the use of nanotechnology to improve the delivery of drugs to HIV patients through novel implantable technologies that can deliver drugs for weeks or months.

Evolving discipline

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to the prevention and treatment of disease in the human body. This evolving discipline has the potential to dramatically change medical science and is already having an impact in a number of clinically used therapies and diagnostics worldwide.

The Liverpool Nanomedicine Partnership have previously undertaken the world’s first human trials of orally dosed nanomedicines for HIV and this is the latest collaboration in a series of productive research efforts with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to target long-acting implantable therapy options.

Currently, the treatment of HIV requires daily oral dosing of HIV drugs, and chronic oral dosing has significant complications that arise from the high pill burden experienced by many patients across populations with varying conditions leading to non-adherence to therapies.

Shared ambition

Professor Steve Rannard, said: “We are looking at strategies that remove the need for daily tablets and generate long-acting dosing technologies that may be able to provide therapeutic drug concentrations for months after a single administration.

“This latest grant demonstrates ongoing support from the NIH for the trans-Atlantic collaboration between the University’s Nanomedicine Partnership and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Professor Andrew Owen, said “This project continues to harness the expertise from both Liverpool and Baltimore, which embraces organic chemistry, materials chemistry, and pharmacology, with significant clinical input to drive strategy.

“There is a seamless link with our ongoing collaborations with Johns Hopkins, which is built upon a shared ambition to bring affordable state-of-the-art medicines to the patients that we serve.”


Dr Caren Meyers, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at JHUSM, said:  “The synergistic partnership between the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has enabled the smooth translation of basic medicinal chemistry and materials science concepts to proof-of-concept preclinical models.

“This award will push forward our collaborative efforts to meet a need for complete long-acting therapeutic options for HIV.”

Want to ‘hear’ more…

Professor Rannard and Professor Owen discuss nano-technology further in their University of Liverpool Podcast entitled ‘ Nano-medicine shrinks the cost of HIV treatment which can be found here.

Leave a comment