The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with Intarcia Therapeutics to invest upwards of $140 million with the intent of developing the first once or twice-yearly anti-HIV prophylactic to help prevent the spread of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa and other countries.
The announcement came on the heels of Intarcia securing $220 million in the second close of the Series EE Equity Financing. A third and final close is planed in the first quarter of 2017.
The initiative is a Medici Drug Delivery System that delivers matchstick-sized devices to be implanted under the skin and release medication continuously. Once placed, water from the extracellular fluid enters the pump device at one end that expands to drive a piston at a controlled rate. This allows the drug within the pump to be released in a steady, consistent fashion at the other end of the device, states the press release. Each design will hold an appropriate volume of drug to treat a person for a whole year.
Researchers are also seeking approval for a device that will do the same thing for people living with diabetes.
“There’s a vital need for an HIV/AIDS intervention that allows those at risk to incorporate prevention more easily into their daily lives,” Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement. “We feel optimistic about our partnership with Intarcia and the prospect of an implantable prophylactic device that could make a world of difference for people most in need,”
According to Bloomberg, the Gates Foundation is providing $50 million upfront, and will possibly give $90 million more in grants depending on how the program goes.