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Anti-HIV drug has potential to prevent transmission in women

A new study from infectious disease researchers at The Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School finds that a drug already given orally to treat HIV is also safe when applied as a vaginal microbicide gel. Microbicides are designed to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and may be formulated as vaginal gels, foams, creams, or suppositories.

"The results of this study may change the way the research community looks at developing safe and effective microbicides," says lead author Kenneth H. Mayer, MD, an infectious disease physician at The Miriam Hospital and professor of medicine and community health at Brown Medical School, both in Providence, RI. "Analyzing the compounds that already have been shown to be successful HIV treatment drugs, and evaluating them for their potential to prevent transmission of infection is an innovative approach that shows great promise."

Published in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal AIDS, currently available online, the multi-site study suggests that as a vaginal gel, tenofovir produced mild or no side effects in both HIV positive and HIV negative women. Tenofovir is the active ingredient in the antiretroviral drug Viread made by Gilead Sciences.

Currently, there is no microbicide available that has been approved for widespread use. The tenofovir study was a safety and product acceptability study and did not evaluate if the microbicide would be effective in preventing the transmission of HIV in women. Expanded safety and effectiveness testing is needed.

"The data will pave the way for further studies that will ultimately evaluate whether the gel protects women from HIV infection," says co-author Lisa A. Maslankowski, MD, medical director of the HIV Prevention Research Division at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "As the first investigational microbicide to contain an antiretroviral agent, tenofovir gel can prevent HIV from replicating, unlike other
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Source:Lifespan


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