US-based Lyndra Therapeutics has revealed plans to develop a once-monthly oral contraceptive that will deliver a continuous dose of estrogen and progestin over multiple weeks.

Current daily combined oral contraceptives also contain estrogen and progestin. However, the new product will provide a comparatively long-acting alternative for women.

The company received $13m in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for development of the new medication.

The grant is said to be part of the foundation’s programme for improving access to contraceptive supplies, services and information to women in low- and middle-income countries.

Lyndra Therapeutics noted that in 2017, approximately 43% of the estimated 206 million pregnancies in developing regions were unintended and led to annual care costs of $8.3bn.

The development programme for the new oral contraceptive will involve preclinical testing in alliance with Routes2Results, a non-profit social and public health research firm.

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Additional funds from the foundation will be available to support the preclinical evaluation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation previously supported the company in developing a long-acting malaria drug and invested in its recent series B financing round.

These series B proceedings will be used to boost the company’s Phase I pipeline and manufacturing scale-up, as well as for Phase II clinical trials.

Lyndra Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Amy Schulman said: “This grant is special because it extends our focus on meeting unmet therapeutic need into women’s health. We are proud to be part of the foundation’s effort to improve lives and ensure better health outcomes by making it easier to access and benefit from family planning.”

The company works towards the formulation of oral dosage forms that deliver one or more sustained, steady-state drugs for up to one week or longer.

Earlier this month, Lyndra Therapeutics partnered with Gilead Sciences on ultra-long acting oral therapies for HIV.