Arlington, VA November 2, 2010 CONRAD, leaders in reproductive health and HIV prevention research, today announced a $5 million award from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The grant will fund research and development of vaginal rings that are contraceptive and also prevent HIV and STI infections.
USAID provided funding for the CAPRISA 004 trial of tenofovir gel, conducted by the Centre for Programme Research for AIDS in South Africa (CAPRISA), which was the first study to show that a vaginal gel can reduce the risk of HIV and herpes infection in women. CONRAD manufactured and provided the tenofovir gel for the study. Tenofovir gel was found to be 39% effective in reducing a woman's risk of becoming infected with HIV during sex and 51% effective in preventing genital herpes infections in the women participating in the trial. The FDA recently granted Fast Track approval designation for tenofovir gel, pending confirmatory results from the NIH-sponsored Phase IIB study, MTN-003, known as VOICE (Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic.) CONRAD's pre-clinical and product development team are evaluating products that include combination gels and barrier methods, such as an intravaginal ring impregnated with tenofovir and a contraceptive that is the subject of this grant.
"Thanks to USAID, we have been able to manufacture the first product to reduce women's risk of HIV and herpes," said Henry Gabelnick, Executive Director of CONRAD. "This award will allow us to expedite the evaluation of a dual-protection technology that promises to be a breakthrough in the simultaneous prevention of unplanned pregnancies and HIV infection."
Almost half of all pregnancies worldwide, estimated to be over 100 million annually, are unintended. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, low contraceptive use rates are reflected by high fertility rates, and thus high infant and maternal mortality rates. This area of the w
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