A unique method for delivering compounds that could positively impact the global battle against HIV and AIDS may be possible, thanks to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
A semi-soft vaginal suppository made from the seaweed-derived food ingredient carrageenan and loaded with the antiviral drug Tenofovir provides a woman-initiated, drug-delivery vehicle that can protect against the spread of sexually transmitted infections during unprotected heterosexual intercourse, the researchers said.
With more than 34 million people worldwide living with HIV, microbicides -- compounds that can be applied vaginally or rectally -- offer a way to slow the spread of the virus, noted lead researcher Toral Zaveri, postdoctoral scholar in food science. Containing agents known to prevent transmission of HIV and other viruses, microbicides can be inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse as a gel, cream, foam, sponge, suppository or film.
Zaveri pointed out that carrageenan was selected over gelatin -- which traditionally has been used for semi-soft suppositories -- because it offers a number of important advantages. Because carrageenan is plant based, it is acceptable to vegetarians, there is no risk of animal-acquired infections and it avoids religious objections. Also, it is more stable than gelatin at higher ambient temperatures common in tropical regions of the world.
The suppositories developed by the Penn State researchers hold particular promise for places such as regions of Africa, where HIV is widespread and women often are not in control of sexual situations, according to Zaveri.
1"Condoms have been successful in preventing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. However, effectiveness depends on correct and consistent use by the male partner," she said. "Due to socioeconomic and gender inequities, women in some countries and cultures are not always in a position to negotiate regular condom use,
|Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer|