Gates Foundation to invest $140m in HIV prevention

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $140m ($50m in equity and $90m in grants) in a program aimed at providing people in sub-Saharan Africa with an implantable minipump delivering microdoses of an HIV vaccine. The matchstick-size pump has been developed by Intarcia Therapeutics Inc. (Boston), while the drug has not been identified yet. Researchers from all over the world have been engaged in searching for an HIV and AIDS vaccine for over two decades; however, up-to-date estimates indicate that 1.9 million people still become infected with the virus each year, most of whom in sub-Saharan Africa. UK-based ViiV (GSK) has recently obtained encouraging results with cabotegravir, which will be soon tested in a 4,500-patient clinical trial. At present, the only drug approved for HIV prevention is Gilead’s Truvada, which significantly reduces the risk of HIV infection. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a $1.5 billion fund and is non-lucrative. Indeed, its goal is to support development programs through equity investments, loans and scholarships. This is one of as many as 50 programs the foundation has funded in the last 7 years. Intarcia has already developed a pump delivering exenatide as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. The pump was tested in several Phase III trials, hence the company has already filed an application with the FDA to market the device by the end of 2017. (Source WSJ)