Since the 1980s, the AIDS/HIV pandemic has spread worldwide, affecting 33 million people with more than 3 million new infections and the death rate increasing by 2 million each year. In 2008 it was reported that around 7,400 new infected patients increased per day and the pandemic continued.
Common treatment systems and highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) can increase the lifespan of AIDS/HIV-infected patients. However, there are still various challenges, including the fact that the virus cannot be completely eliminated. Another problem is treatment failure due to poor patient compliance. Therefore, treatment methods and the discovery of various new drugs are the focus in dealing with this AIDS/HIV problem, one of which is the use of nanotechnology methods.
Nanotechnology has developed by utilizing small particles with dimensions of nanometers (10−9 meters). From here, the term nanomedicine is set, namely, treatment using nanostructured materials for the therapy of various diseases. Since the last decade, the wide application of nanotechnology in the medical field has shown promising progress to improve the treatment and inhibition of various diseases, including HIV/AIDS. The most important strength of using nanomedicine over traditional HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention is the ability to combine, encapsulate, and conjugate various drugs for precise target cell tracking and a customizable drug release process.
In addition, another advantage is that it can accelerate its antiviral action through many mechanisms: small particles (which can aid in drug delivery to specific areas of the body), expanded surface site-to-volume ratio (which allows accommodating extensive drug loading), and customizable behavior (to promote cell entry through negatively charged cellular membranes).
Nanomaterials that are promising as antiviral agents are formulated for virus inhibition and theranostics because they have been shown to exhibit antiviral activity. In fact, scientists from year to year have proven the effectiveness of mRNA delivery nanoparticles for several kinds of treatment. To note, nanomaterial formulations can be made from heavy metal nanoparticles, such as silver or gold, or carbon-based nanoparticles.
However, toxicity is still a major concern in the treatment of nanomaterials, especially for drug delivery systems into targeted cells. Because carbon-based nanoparticles are found to be less toxic than heavy metal-based nanomaterials, organic nanoparticles have received significant attention for formulating nano-based antiviral agents. The most widely used categories of organic nanoparticles are carbon dots (CDs) and carbon-based quantum dots (CQDs).
Both materials intrinsically display optical properties, for example, photostability, high absorbance cross-section, relatively long stable fluorescence lifetime, and high quantum yields of about 70 to 80%. Some of the successes of carbon-based nanoparticles are as follows: the inhibitory effect of mRNA virus by green carbon quantum dots-interposed delivery of locked nucleic acid (CQDs-LNA)-base inhibitors that can suppress the reproduction of KSHV (Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus)-related initial effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells.
Another example: Gly‐CDs succeeded in inhibiting the porcine propagation and inhibiting the invasion and reproduction of the respiratory syndrome virus, as well as stimulating the innate immune system as an antiviral. CQDs synthesized from a series of benzoxazine monomers (BZM-CQDs) exhibited viral blocking activity in the case of lethal flaviviruses (Japanese encephalitis, dengue virus, and Zika) as well as against non-enveloped viral strains (porcine parvovirus and adenovirus-correlated virus) in vitro. Therefore, organic nanoparticles are one of the potential and efficient platforms for viral therapy so they can also become alternative antiviral prevention and treatment agents for HIV in the future.
To reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, in addition to drugs, vaccines are needed which have been proven to be effective in tackling several infectious diseases in the past. Therefore, a nanovaccinology system has also been developed which allows to increase in the body’s immune response to the workings of antigens or be used as an immunostimulatory adjuvant.
After all, promising vaccine studies related to nanotechnology for HIV vaccination including nanocarrier-based strategies are: Live vaccine vectors against HIV-1, next-generation HIV-1 immunogens for eliciting bNAb responses, self-assembling ‘virus-like’ nanoparticles for the presentation of HIV -1 antigens, and siRNA-based nanotherapeutics to inhibit HIV-1 infection.