Despite his optimistic rebuttal of five key criticisms of LA-ART, Flexner admitted that many obstacles remain to its widespread use in HIV. "I don't want to leave you with the impression that all the problems are solved," he said.
On the contrary, a number of vital questions remain, including:
Flexner said that these questions, among others, are being examined by the Long-Acting/Extended Release Antiretroviral Resource Program (LEAP), a U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded effort to support and centralize investigations into LA/ER antiretrovirals. Flexner is LEAP's principal investigator.
That said, Flexner concluded his talk with a prediction that HIV will not be the field in which long-acting drugs most dramatically change the treatment paradigm.
"I think these formulations are not gonna have their biggest impact on HIV," he said. "I think, in the long term, they're gonna have their biggest impact on other infectious diseases. Imagine what a long-acting, extended-release formulation can do for the control of tuberculosis, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B, malaria and epidemics like Ebola.
"This is no longer science fiction: This is today."
Image credit: Myles Helfand via Canva.