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LA BioMed awarded research grant to study HIV prevention gel

Los Angeles (April 26, 2010) Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) has received a $350,000 grant to study the safety of a gel designed to reduce the heterosexual transmission of HIV from the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), a nonprofit global initiative to develop products to reduce HIV transmission, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Institute announced today.

The grant will fund LA BioMed's participation in the IPM020 study of the safety of a dapivirine-containing microbicide gel, which represents the second generation of HIV-prevention products for women. The study is a multicenter trial underway at five U.S. sites that will enroll 180 research volunteers with funding from IPM and USAID.

Susan Ballagh, MD, a LA BioMed principal investigator, and her research team have started recruiting 30 healthy women, ages 18-40, for the LA BioMed study. To participate, the research volunteers will need to use the investigational gel daily for 12 weeks to evaluate its safety and absorption into tissues.

"If this gel is found to be safe, further testing will be undertaken to determine its effectiveness in preventing the transmission of HIV," Dr. Ballagh said. "IPM is committed to providing women with an affordable and self-initiating HIV-prevention strategy. The organization's goal is to reduce the cycle of infection that has led to the deaths of more than 25 million people worldwide and orphaned more than 15 million children since 1981."

Every day, nearly 7,000 people around the world are newly infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and some 33 million people are now living with HIV, half of them women, according to IPM. The World Health Organization recently reported that AIDS is the No. 1 cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age in the world, with women in developing countries bearing the brunt of the epidemic.

IPM was founded in 2002 to reduce HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of a safe and effective microbicide for use by women in developing countries.

Annalene Nel, MD, IPM chief medical officer based in South Africa, will visit LA BioMed on Thursday to review the LA BioMed study site. Dr. Nel is responsible for IPM's clinical trials and international clinical site development.

Previously, she worked as an independent clinical research consultant in the drug development process. She has significant experience in all levels of clinical research and in a broad range of therapeutic areas. She also has worked as an investigator in clinical research for more than 20 years.


Contact: Laura Mecoy
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)

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