U.K., Gates Foundation Award Grant Money for Microbicide Research
February 24, 2009
The British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded more than 90 million British pounds -- almost $130 million -- in grant money to continue development on microbicides for HIV prevention, London's Times reports. The grant follows the results from a clinical trial of an experimental microbicide, called PRO 2000 and developed by Indevus Pharmaceuticals (Lister, Times, 2/23). Research presented earlier this month suggests that the vaginal gel is 30% effective in preventing HIV infection, though the findings were not statistically significant. A second, larger clinical trial -- involving 9,000 women and led by teams in Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda -- is expected to finish in August, with results reported by November (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/10).
Renee Ridzon, senior program officer in global health for the Gates Foundation, said that the foundation recognizes the potential contribution microbicides can make, especially the "next generation" of more targeted drugs. Zeda Rosenberg, the chief executive of the International Partnership for Microbicides, said the PRO 2000 trial is an "important milestone." She added that the support of the British government and the Gates Foundation adds "crucial momentum to delivering on the promise of microbicides." Sheena McCormack -- a clinical epidemiologist at MRC's Clinical Trials Unit, which coordinated the PRO 2000 trials -- said that researchers involved with microbicides "have come together as an international community in a more coherent way (recently) and we are starting to see the results," adding that the results "should now come in quick succession." McCormack said that researchers "have given PRO 2000 the best chance," adding that if the product works, "it will be statistically significant in our trial and obviously a very, very exciting development." U.K. International Development Minister Ivan Lewis said the increased funding for the research is crucial to ensure the greatest possibility of success and that new research is "vital" to curbing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He said the development of an effective microbicide "will enable women to protect themselves against infection and could be available long before a vaccine for HIV is found" (Times, 2/23).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.