Verma M, Chu JN, Salama JAF, et al. Development of a long-acting direct-acting antiviral system for hepatitis C virus treatment in swine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020;117(22):11987-11994. doi:10.1073/pnas.2004746117
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of cirrhosis worldwide and kills more Americans than 59 other infections, including HIV and tuberculosis, combined. While direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments are effective, limited uptake of therapy, particularly in high-risk groups, remains a substantial barrier to eliminating HCV. We developed a long-acting DAA system (LA-DAAS) capable of prolonged dosing and explored its cost-effectiveness. We designed a retrievable coil-shaped LA-DAAS compatible with nasogastric tube administration and the capacity to encapsulate and release gram levels of drugs while resident in the stomach. We formulated DAAs in drug-polymer pills and studied the release kinetics for 1 mo in vitro and in vivo in a swine model. The LA-DAAS was equipped with ethanol and temperature sensors linked via Bluetooth to a phone application to provide patient engagement. We then performed a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing LA-DAAS to DAA alone in various patient groups, including people who inject drugs. Tunable release kinetics of DAAs was enabled for 1 mo with drug-polymer pills in vitro, and the LA-DAAS safely and successfully provided at least month-long release of sofosbuvir in vivo. Temperature and alcohol sensors could interface with external sources for at least 1 mo. The LA-DAAS was cost-effective compared to DAA therapy alone in all groups considered (base case incremental cost-effectiveness ratio $39,800). We believe that the LA-DAA system can provide a cost-effective and patient-centric method for HCV treatment, including in high-risk populations who are currently undertreated.