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One model contains the nexplanon hormone implant for contraception – the same implant would be used for HIV prevention for the administration of islatravir. (Photo: Merck via AP)

Earlier this week, Merck published the results of a small and early trial demonstrating that a prototype pen-sized implant can prevent HIV infection for a full year.

A humeral implant, which is also being used to deliver [contraceptive] contraceptives, is likely to allow physicians to deliver "meaningful doses" of an HIV experimental drug called islatravir to patients in the future.

"We are encouraged by the results of this proof-of-concept trial, which will evaluate the feasibility of delivering meaningful doses of islatravir over a 12-week period," said Drs. Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Merck Research Laboratories, in a statement.

Islatravir is very effective, Dr. George Hanna, Vice President of Global Clinical Development at Merck Research Laboratories, opposite USA TODAY. This would probably enable doctors to treat someone who already has HIV or prevent infection to a person exposed to the virus.

Hanna said the drug prevents an HIV-like disease in animals. For humans it is still in the test phase.

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Doctors would load the drug onto the implant and administer it to patients. The implant would provide the body with enough of the drug so that adequate amounts of the drug are in the patient's bloodstream, said Hanna will continue to investigate the treatment in the future, "said Hanna.

Merck plans future trials for HIV prevention and treatment with islatravir.

Sixteen healthy adults who did not have HIV participated in the study, six of whom received a low-dose implant, six a higher-dose implant and four a placebo, according to Hanna.

"And we found that We achieved good scores with both implants containing the drug in the three months we evaluated the implant, "said Hanna.

Your next goal is to further improve the implants until they have the implant have created what they consider optimal implants before major studies can be performed.

The idea would be for patients to get the implant Prevent infection and replace it annually.

"We are very happy about that," said Hanna. "We are now optimistic that we can create the implant that will deliver the drug for a full year of prevention."

Follow Morgan Hines: @MorganEmHines .

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