August 19, 2011
An independent, not-for-profit drug development group that specializes in neglected diseases is launching a concerted effort to address unmet pediatric AIDS treatment needs. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) will focus on the creation of a first-line combination treatment for pediatric HIV/AIDS patients less than three years old in the developing world.
"There are more than 2.5 million children who are currently living with HIV," said Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of DNDiNorth America. "The overwhelming majority of those -- something like 92 percent -- live in sub-Saharan Africa."
Doctors Without Borders, UNITAID and several other international organizations asked DNDi "to supply our expertise in the area of drug development to the problem of pediatric HIV," said Cohen.
"Ideally, we want this pediatric therapy to be very easy to administer and better tolerated by children than the current drugs," said Cohen. "Today there are separate liquid preparations of some antiretrovirals for children under three, but they taste terrible. Children have a difficult time to tolerate them. They're very difficult to administer for caregivers."
A treatment would need to be safe, effective and cheap with easy dosing, stable in tropical temperatures, compatible with other HIV and TB drugs, and carry minimal resistance risks, DNDi said.
"Because tuberculosis is so highly prevalent -- and many, many children are co-infected with TB and HIV -- we need to find a way to ensure that the regimen that we produce is compatible with TB drugs" and can be co-administered, Cohen said.