Coupled gel spreading and diffusive transport models describing microbicidal drug delivery.
Gels are a drug delivery platform that is being evaluated for application of active pharmaceutical ingredients, termed microbicides, that act topically against vaginal and rectal mucosal infection by sexually transmitted HIV. Despite success in one Phase IIb trial of a vaginal gel delivering tenofovir, problems of user adherence to designed gel application scheduling have compromised results in two other trials. The microbicides field is responding to this dilemma by expanding behavioral analysis of the determinants of adherence while simultaneously improving the pharmacological, biochemical, and biophysical analyses of the determinants of microbicide drug delivery. The intent is to combine results of these two complementary perspectives on microbicide performance and epidemiological success to create an improved product design paradigm. Central to both user sensory perceptions and preferences, key factors that underlie adherence, and to vaginal gel mucosal drug delivery, that underlies anti-HIV efficacy, are gel properties (e.g. rheology) and volume. The specific engineering problem to be solved here is to develop a model for how gel rheology and volume, interacting with loaded drug concentration, govern the transport of the microbicide drug tenofovir into the vaginal mucosa to its stromal layer. These are factors that can be controlled in microbicide gel design. The analysis here builds upon our current understanding of vaginal gel deployment and drug delivery, incorporating key features of the gel's environment, the vaginal canal, fluid production and subsequent gel dilution, and vaginal wall elasticity. These have not previously been included in the modeling of drug delivery. We consider the microbicide drug tenofovir, which is the drug most completely studied for gels: in vitro, in animal studies in vivo, and in human clinical trials with both vaginal or rectal gel application. Our goal is to contribute to improved biophysical and pharmacological understanding of gel functionality, providing a computational tool that can be used in future vaginal microbicide gel design.
Funke, C; MacMillan, K; Ham, A; Szeri, AJ; Katz, DF
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