The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing as much as $140 million in Intarcia Therapeutics Inc. so the company can develop an implant that could prevent HIV, Bloomberg reports.

Gates will provide $50 million upfront so that Intarcia can use its proprietary implant technology called the Medici Drug Delivery System to develop an HIV prevention that could be administered once or twice a year. If Intarcia’s research on the prophylaxis continues to move forward, the Gates Foundation may give up to $90 million more for the effort.

Intarcia’s implants are matchstick-size devices that get implanted under the skin and release medication continuously. It is now seeking regulatory approval for a device that will deliver a diabetes drug, Bloomberg reports.

The hope is that the device will also be able to deliver anti-HIV meds, particularly to communities across the globe at high risk of the virus. Implants may offer better protection because people would no longer have to adhere to a daily pill regimen for optimum effectiveness.

“There’s a vital need for an HIV/AIDS intervention that allows those at risk to incorporate prevention more easily into their daily lives. We feel optimistic about our partnership with Intarcia and the prospect of an implantable prophylactic device that could make a world of difference for people most in need,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in an Intarcia press release.

Kurt Graves, chairman, president and CEO of Intarcia, added: “With Medici, and each of our new once- or twice-yearly therapies, we’re aiming to solve some of the biggest unmet needs in the treatment and prevention of major chronic diseases that impact millions and millions of lives every day. We look forward to working with health and regulatory authorities in preparing to bring our first investigational medicine to patients with type 2 diabetes next year. With our new strategic initiative in HIV prevention, we are also tremendously excited and humbled to work with an incredible organization as smart, forward-looking and purpose-based as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

To read POZ’s collection of articles about HIV prevention, click here.