News items HIV medicine approved for young children
16 March 2022

For young children with HIV, there is now an effective and safe drug available that inhibits the infection. Researchers at Radboud university medical center have shown that an existing anti-HIV drug, dolutegravir, is also suitable for children under twenty kilograms body weight, with a paediatric tablet containing a lower dose. The World Health Organization WHO has incorporated the findings into its guidelines.

Worldwide, 1.8 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, a virus that, without treatment, can eventually lead to AIDS. This virus attacks the body’s own defenses, making pathogens that would normally be stopped dangerous. A cure is not possible at this time, but when using medication people with HIV can live a long life. 

For a long time there was no clear treatment advice for children. Then the ODYSSEY study was started, in which a large group of international scientists searched for the best medication for children. In 2020 this was followed by an advice for children over twenty kilos. Now this advice is also available for smaller children who are living with HIV: those who are at least 4 weeks old and weigh between 3 and 20 kilos. Researchers at Radboud university medical center and others have shown that, in low doses, the drug dolutegravir is easy to use and can safely be prescribed to these children. A special pediatric tablet has been developed by the manufacturer that will also become available in low-income countries. This advice is included in the drug's patient information in Europe and America and in the WHO's treatment guidelines. 

Researcher Angela Colbers, together with Radboudumc colleagues Hylke Waalewijn, Pauline Bollen and David Burger is involved in this study: 'The younger children start taking anti-HIV medication, the better, and in low-income countries we aim to make treatment the same for children and adults. In adults, dolutegravir is mainly used, but for children there was no suitable pill available and the dosage was unknown. Now we know that the new pediatric tablet works well and what dosage to use. Babies from four weeks of age who need it can take this medication safely. The drug produces few side effects, it inhibits virus growth quickly and the risk of resistance is low.'

Dolutegravir is one of three medications children take to combat the virus. 'These drugs tackle a different part of the virus, making them collectively an effective combination,' Colbers says. What's more, it's a relatively inexpensive drug that is widely available: from high- to low-income countries, an important starting point for WHO. 

Curing the virus is not yet any closer, Colbers explains. 'A lot of work is being done on other treatments and also vaccines, but unfortunately without results yet. The corona crisis has had consequences for the fight against HIV, but hopefully the knowledge gathered from the corona vaccines will also have a positive effect on the development of HIV vaccines. That is not yet the case. That's why I'm happy with this treatment advice for the young patients: so that we can treat them as optimal as possible for now.'

About the publications

This study is an additional part of the ODYSSEY study, the findings of which were published in December 2021 in the international journal New England Journal of Medicine. This also concluded, co-authored by Angela Colbers, that the drug dolutegravir works better in children with HIV than the treatment that was the standard of care at the time. 

Publication in The Lancet HIV: Dolutegravir dosing for children with HIV weighing less than 20 kg: pharmacokinetic and safety substudies nested in the open-label, multicentre, randomised, non-inferiority ODYSSEY trial - Hylke Waalewijn, Man K Chan, Pauline D J Bollen, Hilda A Mujuru, Shafic Makumbi, Adeodata R Kekitiinwa, Elizabeth Kaudha, Tatiana Sarfati, Godfrey Musoro, Annet Nanduudu, Abbas Lugemwa, Pauline Amuge, Cecilia L Moore, Pablo Rojo, Carlo Giaquinto, Angela Colbers, Diana M Gibb, Deborah Ford, Anna Turkova, David M Burger, ODYSSEY Trial Team. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(21)00292-7.

  • Want to know more about these subjects? Click on the buttons below for more news.

    RIHS

More information


Pauline Dekhuijzen

wetenschaps- en persvoorlichter

neem contact op

Related news items


More than five million euros for research to improve palliative care Jeroen Hasselaar will lead research project with Horizon grant

15 June 2022

Jeroen Hasselaar will lead a large international research project. With a 5.3 million euro grant from the EU's Horizon program, he and his team want to improve palliative care for cancer patients, together with partners from nine European countries.

read more

New test for Lyme disease is not reliable

15 June 2022

To determine whether someone has Lyme disease, doctors in the Netherlands often use antibody tests. For some time now, so-called cellular tests have been available on the market. However, the VICTORY study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has found that these tests are not reliable.

read more

Science at Lowlands Music Festival with two Radboudumc research projects

10 June 2022

For the first time since 2019, music festival Lowlands will take place again, on August 19, 20 and 21 in Biddinghuizen. Radboudumc is active at the festival with two studies: "How resilient are you?" and "Dr. Borrel or Dr. Bob?"

read more

Meniscus prosthesis Atro Medical receives 2.5 million EU grant

10 June 2022

The European Commission is providing a 2.5 million euro grant to ATRO Medical, spin-off of The Radboudumc and DSM, for the accelerated development of their artificial meniscus.

read more

Five million euros for research into quality of oral care Stefan Listl leads DELIVER project with Horizon Europe grant

10 June 2022

Stefan Listl of the Radboudumc will lead an international research project. With a five million euro grant from the Horizon Europe program, he and partners from seven countries will improve the quality of oral health care, especially for poorer and vulnerable groups in society.

read more

With concerted effort, tuberculosis could be eradicated in 30 years time March 24th was World Tuberculosis Day

24 March 2022

Since 2020, the number of deaths from tuberculosis increased for the first time in a decade, caused by the COVID pandemic: fewer people had access to the right care on time. Some catching up is needed.

read more