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CONRAD receives $28.5M Gates Foundation grant for HIV prevention research

Arlington, VA (November 30, 2007) The CONRAD Program of the Eastern Virginia Medical School today announced that it has received a $28.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop microbicides for HIV prevention. To date, the Gates Foundation has awarded a total of $65 million to CONRAD for microbicide research.

The award will support the development of new combination microbicides, research on novel and improved in vitro and small-animal models to test microbicide safety and efficacy, validation of clinical biomarkers and testing of the new microbicide candidates for clinical safety.

Despite setbacks in the HIV prevention field over the past year, the global effort to develop effective new prevention tools, including microbicides, must go on, said Henry Gabelnick, Executive Director of CONRAD. We are grateful for the continued support of the Gates Foundation, and we are inspired by its commitment to making real progress in global health.

Microbicides are topical substances used intravaginally to potentially prevent HIV infection. Effective microbicides could be an important HIV prevention option for women, who account for approximately half of all people living with HIV globally.

CONRAD has served as a resource for the microbicide field for the past twenty years, and in that capacity, has provided support for preclinical, early clinical research and Phase III clinical trials for several microbicide candidates, many of which were funded by the Gates Foundation and/or USAID. New microbicide candidates CONRAD is currently researching contain several ingredients with different types of activity against HIV. Dr. Gabelnick continued, Due to the multiple pathways involved in mucosal infection and the number of new infections attributable to viruses that contain drug resistance-associated mutations, development of a combination microbicide is likely to be important to achieve successful prevention of sexual transmission of HIV.

The microbicide field has accumulated a wealth of experience and understanding that is critical for accelerating progress toward an effective microbicide, said Dr. Gustavo Doncel, Director of Preclinical Research at CONRAD. The contributions of the Gates Foundation have created a synergy within the microbicide field that we hope will result in the development of a tool that will be a major advance in the fight against HIV.

Even if the first microbicide that is approved is not 100% effective, modeling studies suggest that it could still have a major impact on public health, provided it is used in combination with other HIV prevention methods.


Contact: Annette Larkin

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