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Reduced glycerin formulation of tenofovir vaginal gel safe for rectal use
Date:5/16/2012

PITTSBURGH, May 17, 2012 A change in the formulation of tenofovir gel, an anti-HIV gel developed for vaginal use, may make it safer to use in the rectum, suggests a study published online this week in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. In laboratory tests of rectal tissue, researchers from the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) found that the reformulated gel was less harmful to the lining of the rectum than the original vaginal formulation, and just as effective in protecting cells against HIV.

"The lining of the rectum is much more fragile than the vaginal epithelium, so we can't be certain a product like tenofovir gel that is safe for vaginal use will be completely safe to use in the rectum," said lead study author Charlene Dezzutti, Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and principal investigator of the MTN Network Laboratory. "We are very encouraged by our laboratory data that suggest the reformulated gel could be safer for rectal use, and serve as a dual compartment gel for use in both the vagina and rectum."

Tenofovir gel has shown some promise in reducing HIV risk in women through vaginal sex. But because the rectal epithelium the lining of the rectum that serves as the first line of defense against HIV is much thinner than the vaginal lining, the gel may not be safe or effective to use rectally. Indeed, unprotected anal sex is 10 to 20 times more likely to result in HIV infection than unprotected vaginal intercourse. By its nature, tenofovir gel is hyperosmolar contains a higher concentration of sugars and salts relative to cells. This quality could have a harmful effect on the rectal lining by causing epithelial cells to shrink as they purge water to achieve balance. Weakened in this manner, the rectal epithelium may be less able to protect against HIV.

To make tenofovir gel safe and more amenable to rectal use,
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Contact: Clare Collins
collcx@upmc.edu
412-641-7299
Microbicide Trials Network
Source:Eurekalert

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