Gao Y, Kraft JC, Yu D, Ho RJY. Recent developments of nanotherapeutics for targeted and long-acting, combination HIV chemotherapy. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2019 May;138:75-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2018.04.014. Epub 2018 Apr 17. PMID: 29678735; PMCID: PMC6482852.
Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) given orally has transformed HIV from a terminal illness to a manageable chronic disease. Yet despite the recent development of newer and more potent drugs for cART and suppression of virus in blood to undetectable levels, residual virus remains in tissues. Upon stopping cART, virus rebounds and progresses to AIDS. Current oral cART regimens have several drawbacks including (1) challenges in patient adherence due to pill fatigue or side-effects, (2) the requirement of life-long daily drug intake, and (3) limited penetration and retention in cells within lymph nodes. Appropriately designed injectable nano-drug combinations that are long-acting and retained in HIV susceptible cells within lymph nodes may address these challenges. While a number of nanomaterials have been investigated for delivery of HIV drugs and drug combinations, key challenges involve developing and scaling delivery systems that provide a drug combination targeted to HIV host cells and tissues where residual virus persists. With validation of the drug-insufficiency hypothesis in lymph nodes, progress has been made in the development of drug combination nanoparticles that are long-acting and targeted to lymph nodes and cells. Unique drug combination nanoparticles (DcNPs) composed of three HIV drugs-lopinavir, ritonavir, and tenofovir-have been shown to provide enhanced drug levels in lymph nodes; and elevated drug-combination levels in HIV-host cells in the blood and plasma for two weeks. This review summarizes the progress in the development of nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems for HIV therapy. It discusses how injectable nanocarriers may be designed to enable delivery of drug combinations that are long-lasting and target-selective in physiological contexts (in vivo) to provide safe and effective use. Consistent drug combination exposure in the sites of residual HIV in tissues and cells may overcome drug insufficiency observed in patients on oral cART.