|dc.description.abstract||HIV/AIDS is the most threatening and challenging infectious diseases of our time, with the highest increase of newly infected cases reported. This infectious disease was discovered in the early eighties under homosexual men and was later to be discovered in heterosexuals. HIV is a systemic immunosuppressive disorder which causes a depletion of CD4+ T cells and develops into the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome - AIDS.
Africa is the continent most affected by HIV/AIDS with the southern parts of Africa having the highest prevalence rates compared to the rest of Africa. Statistics indicate that AIDS is responsible for 3% of deaths in children worldwide - one in seven people dying of an HIV-related illness is a child under the age of 15 years. It was stated by the WHO that countries should develop improved antiretrovirals regimes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
Difficulties in administering antiretrovirals (ARVs) to patients (especially children) are the strict dosage regimes and the severe adverse reactions. These factors complicate patient adherence. The list of problems in treating patients is endless and includes the distribution, stability as well as the low efficacy of these drugs.
Most of the above mentioned problems and obstacles related to ARVs and ARV treatment could be minimized or eliminated by the use of a stable and effective drug delivery system. Enhancing ARV treatment may be accomplished by the use of the Pheroid™ drug delivery system. Pheroids™ consists mainly of fatty acids and sterile nitrous oxide gassed water. Pharmacological active substances are entrapped into submicron and micron sized structures called Pheroids™. Research showed promising results and advantages in delivering drugs through oral and transdermal routes using Pheroid™ technology.
The focus of this study was to test the possible enhancement of the efficacy of antiretrovirals using Pheroid™ technology. The assays used to study this possible enhancement were a modified neutral red and a modified 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium (MTT) assay. These assays confirmed and illustrated the toxic and protective properties of the tested ARVs (stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine). An MT-2 cell line was used and infected with an HIV-1 strain, SW7-TCL.
Applying Pheroid™ technology in these assays resulted in massive cell death, due to increased ARV toxic levels within the cells. Viability tests proved that Pheroids™ had no effect on the viability of cells at the concentration typically used. This confirmed the enhancing properties of Pheroids™ in the delivery of drugs into the cells. The MTT assay was further adapted from a seven day incubation period to a three day incubation period. By using a low concentration series and a three day incubation period the loss of cells through toxicity was partially overcome.
One of the problems that arose form this study was the non-reproducibility of the results. Absorbance levels fluctuated at specific concentrations of the same ARV, which cause difficulties in comparing results. This result was repeatedly confirmed in this syncytium forming infection model.
In conclusion, Pheroid™ technology enhanced the delivery of ARVs into the cells although it resulted in cell death. Both the neutral red and MTT assays were found to be inaccurate but further development, research and assay optimization could result in improved in vitro studies.
The article format was used for this thesis, as described in the general academic rules in section A.13.7.3 of the North West University. Chapter 1 deals with HIV/AIDS related problems, statistics and treatment obstacles. Chapter 2 is a summary of the cell viability assays used in this study. Pheroid™ technology and its application to ARV treatment are dealt with in chapter 3. The proposed article for submission in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation has been included in chapter 4. Some of the results from the study are reported in the article and annexures, whilst other results are shown and discussed in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 gives a conclusion and final summary of this study. All other experimental methods and results are enclosed in the annexures, as is the "Guide for authors" for the article.||