August 11, 2009
A "unique vaginal gel" being developed by researchers from the University of Utah could be used to help prevent the spread of HIV, according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Functional Materialss, the Deseret News reports. Julie Jay is a doctoral candidate of pharmaceutical chemistry at the university and an author of the study testing the new gel. "The new gel, she said, could be inserted a few hours before sex and would essentially detect the presence of semen and provide a protective barrier between the vaginal tissue and HIV. It leaves the body as vaginal tissues naturally re-acidify, and is either eliminated or absorbed," the article states (Leonard, 8/10). Scientists are calling the product, which changes structure when it comes into contact with semen, a "molecular condom," Patrick Kiser, an associate professor of bioengineering at the university, said (Ziegler, KCPW, 8/10). Kiser said human clinical trials could begin in the next few years (8/10).