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Rahima Benhabbour, assistant professor in the UNC/NC State Joint BME Department and an adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is doing breakthrough research. Benhabbour is first author of a new study recently published in Nature Communications reporting an ultra-long-acting tunable, biodegradable, and removable polymer-based system that offers sustained drug delivery for up to one year for HIV treatment or prophylaxis.

A collaboration amongst the Joint BME Department, UNC School of Medicine, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC Center for Aids Research, and Merck Research Laboratories, this study tested six antiretroviral drugs, and all kept their physical and chemical properties within the formulation and upon release. Prof Benhabbour says the ability to administer multiple drugs with this implant is an important advancement: “To have an HIV prevention treatment that consists of an injection once or twice a year would make an incredible impact for patients.” She adds, “This technology is not only promising for HIV, but for any kind of condition that requires a daily intake of medication. We’re talking about a safe, removable, long-lasting injection that takes away the burden of adhering to a daily medication regimen.”

Moreover, Prof Benhabbour has been featured on the Innovate Carolina site for her use of 3D-printing technology to prevent HIV infections and other health conditions in women. Since launching her startup company AnelleO in 2016, Behnhabbour has been working on the first product, AnelleO PRO, a once-a-month progesterone-releasing ring for infertility and assisted reproductive technology. The goal of AnelleO is to create a more efficient drug delivery that can be customized to women and their individual needs, since current technology for intervaginal rings is a one-size-fits-all product. Many congratulations to Prof Benhabbour for these significant achievements! You can read about her startup company and entrepreneurship journey here. To read the full news on the multi-drug delivery system publication, visit UNC Health Care here.

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