By Matt Simonette
A new large-scale clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a long-lasting injectable anti-HIV drug called cabotegravir is taking place in part at Cook County Health & Hospitals System's ( CCHHS ) Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center.
Cabotegavir is intended to be administered every eight weeks and, if ultimately proven to be effective, could be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) instead of the oral medication Truvada, which must be taken daily.
Temitope Oyedele, MD, attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, who is the lead investigator in the local study, said, "We know Truvada works, but we also have a lot of data showing that its hard for people to take it every day. The longer that [patients] are on it, the more likely they are to miss pills as they should. So even though it works great, it would be nice to have an alternative where people didn't have to remember to take a pill every single day."
He added, "Every patient is different. There are some people where taking a pill is better for them, but there would definitely some who would prefer taking a shot, and not having to worry about taking a pill every day."
The medication is being investigated in about 45 sites in 8 countries, and researchers expect about 4,500 participants. The study will last about 4.5 years.
Investigators will first have to determine whether participants can tolerate an oral version of cabotegravir, which they'll take for about five weeks, according to Oyedele. Two individuals have been enrolled in the study so far, and two others are currently being screened. CORE Center researchers would like to eventually enroll about 65 patients.
"The goal of the study is to have at least 10 percent [of participants] be transgender women, and about 50 percent be Black," he added. "Our real target is in the adolescent and young adult population, because, based on [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] data, those are the groups most affected by the epidemic."
Those interested in taking part in the trial can contact the CORE Center at 312-869-4289.