The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committing up to $140 million to help Boston biotech company Intarcia Therapeutics develop an HIV prevention device. The funds will help Intarcia adapt its Medici technology program to deliver a steady stream of HIV medication to healthy patients over an extended period of time. The matchstick-sized device is similar to a birth control implant, dosing out medicine from a tiny pump embedded under the patient’s skin.
The Gates Foundation contribution is divided into two parts. The Seattle non-profit behemoth is investing $50 million in Intarcia’s latest Series EE round and committing up to $90 million in grants to be awarded as the startup crosses certain milestones.
The anti-HIV prophylactic therapy would be administered to patients once or twice-yearly. Intarcia is also developing a drug delivery system to treat type 2 diabetes, using the Medici technology. The startup plans to begin delivering the diabetes medication to patients next year but development of the anti-HIV prophylactic is expected to take longer.
The PrEP pump will likely make its initial roll-out in Western nations, but Intarcia’s long-term goal is for the device to be made widely-available across sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world. Learn more about the device here.