As part of the Imagine2030 campaign we want to show that innovation is not just something for the future. Biomedical advances being made right now will shape how we fight diseases of poverty in the future, and are delivering changes every day. It will be these advances, and the organisations behind them, that will bring us closer to our goal: an end of diseases of poverty by 2030.
For our celebration of World AIDS Day, and the fight against HIV & AIDS, we profile an organisation that is working to produce innovative ways to help women protect themselves, and their sexual and reproductive health.
IPM – pioneering HIV prevention options for women
Fourteen years ago, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) entered the HIV prevention field with a promise and a clear vision to create products that women in developing countries could use themselves to prevent HIV, and protect their sexual and reproductive health.
Since IPM was founded as a nonprofit organization in 2002, it has leveraged public, philanthropic and private sector resources to accelerate the development of safe and effective life-saving technologies for women. The organisation builds on partnerships — with governments, foundations, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, policy-makers, advocates and communities — to bring scientific ingenuity, political will and financial resources to bear on all phases of product development.
The dapivirine ring
IPM led the development and testing of the monthly dapivirine ring, the first long-acting HIV prevention method shown to safely help offer protection. The novel vaginal ring delivers the antiretroviral (ARV) drug dapivirine continuously over the course of one month, offering women a practical and discreet way to protect themselves against HIV. By marshalling scientific know-how and resources through partnerships with public, private, research and civil society stakeholders, IPM brought the ring from concept to Phase III efficacy trials just seven years after acquiring the license for dapivirine. In 2016, two parallel Phase III trials confirmed the safety and efficacy of IPM’s monthly dapivirine ring.
Strengthening medical research capacity in Africa
IPM has collaborated with in-country partners and research staff to build and strengthen capacity at more than 15 research centers across sub-Saharan Africa. They have trained more than 600 research center clinical staff, including community engagement teams on microbicide trial implementation. These staff are well-equipped to conduct high-quality HIV prevention and related clinical trials that contribute to the health of their communities.
Because HIV and unintended pregnancy are major causes of serious health complications and death for women worldwide, IPM is developing a multipurpose technology: a 90-day dapivirine-contraceptive ring designed to offer both HIV prevention and contraception. A Phase I trial is expected to begin in 2017.
Developing the first combination ARV ring
IPM developed the first combination ARV vaginal ring to reach clinical trials, the dapivirine-maraviroc ring, and is exploring formulations using potent new ARVs. Combining ARVs with different mechanisms of action may provide greater protection against HIV than a single drug alone and reduce the chance of acquiring drug-resistant HIV.
For IPM? The first long-acting, self-initiated HIV prevention product for women potentially approved for public use. The dapivirine ring is being made available to women who participated in both Phase III trials through two “open-label” studies now under way across Africa. IPM is also pursuing regulatory approval to license the ring, with the first regulatory submissions planned for mid-2017. The earliest potential product approvals could be received in late 2018 in some countries.