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Researchers developing bioadhesive gel to protect women from HIV and HSV infections

MENLO PARK, Calif.July 24, 2012A new grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will support the development of a topical microbicide gel for drug delivery. The innovative gel formulation will be a combination therapy against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections in women.

Every day, more than 3,000 women around the world are newly infected with HIV, and it is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the world, 22.5 million are in Africa. HSV-2 is a global epidemic and affects up to 80 percent of the female population in Africa.

As part of the grant, SRI International researchers will develop and test a prototype bioadhesive formulation for sustained delivery of the antiviral drugs tenofovir and acyclovir to the vaginal surface. Because chronic HSV-2 infections have been shown to speed the progression of immunodeficiency disease, researchers are focused on developing a microbicide that prevents both HIV and HSV-2 infections.

"The inexpensive and easy-to-use combination therapy in development could help contain the spread of HIV and HSV, and possibly other sexually transmitted diseases," said Gita Shankar, Ph.D., director of Formulations R&D, SRI Biosciences. "One of the strongest benefits of a topical gel formula is that it can offer protection when options such as condoms are unavailable or unacceptable."

The awarded grant is for two years with a possible extension of three additional years. Development work will focus on creating a combination therapy that will limit the risk of drug resistance, while providing women with safe and sustained drug delivery. The novel product will be based on a patented bioadhesive polymeric platform developed at SRI.

This research will be supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award number R21AI098658. The content of this press release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Contact: Dina Basin
SRI International

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