Australia: Gel May Be Sexual Disease Barrier
March 21, 2003
Human trials on a vaginal gel that may prevent transmission of HIV and other STDs could begin in Melbourne within months after successful animal trials.Adapted from:
Chief Executive John Raff of Starpharma, the Melbourne-based company that developed the gel, said the gel had also proved successful in preventing transmission of genital herpes and chlamydia. The gel, which is applied in the vagina before sex, works by preventing the fusion of the virus with cells in the body.
Raff said microbicides are the primary strategy for preventing the spread of HIV, as vaccine trials to date had proved unsuccessful. The next phase would involve further tests on monkeys to examine the minimum dosage required and the effects of repeat doses.
Mike Kennedy, executive director of the Victorian AIDS Council, said microbicides are particularly important for preventing HIV transmission because they give control to women so they do not have to rely on their partners to use a condom. "It shifts the capacity to control HIV infection to the one who is likely to be affected by penetrative sex," he said.
Raff said Starpharma is looking at adapting the gel so that it could be used anally. He hoped that human trials would begin in Melbourne and the United States later this year.
Andrew Grulich, president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, cautioned that the road from animal to human trials and then to market is a long one, and researchers do not know how successful the products will be in humans. However, he said the results are promising.
03.20.03; Amanda Dunn
Safety and Tolerability of Vaginal PRO 2000 Gel in Sexually Active HIV-Uninfected and Abstinent HIV-Infected Women