Vaginal microbicide gel may offer a promising strategy for prevention and protection against HIV transmission

A new study shows that a microbicide gel is highly effective in block infection by the AIDS virus in a non-human primate model. In the paper published December 6 in the Open Access journal PLOS Pathogens, Dereuddre-Bosquet and colleagues from the European Combined Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Microbicides (CHAARM) Consortium describe the gel's key ingredient, which are small peptides engineered to present a decoy to bind up the virus and prevent it from entering and infecting the cells of the body. Because this is a gel it can be topically applied and could represent a powerful preventative agent against sexual transmission of HIV.

Worldwide, the scientific community is working on the development of a vaccine against HIV. Meanwhile, research is also focused on the reduction of the spread of the virus by the application of a microbicide gel to protect users during intercourse which is a time of first exposure to virus. To date, few treatments that block virus entry have shown promising protection.

Dereuddre-Bosquet et al. engineered peptides named "miniCD4s" because they mimic the CD4 receptor used by HIV to gain entry into of the body. The study shows that the miniCD4s blocks HIV entry into isolated cells in a dish and that mimic mucous membranes which are points of virus entry. The authors then formulated miniCD4s at 0.3% in a microbicide gel that was vaginally applied to six female cynomolgus macaques monkeys for one hour before the animals were given a high dose of the virus also in the vagina. This dose would ordinarily make the animals highly infection but instead, five of the six were completely protected from HIV infection. No trace of virus was found in any body tissue. They were also unable to detect any antibodies to the virus in the plasma of the animals, indicating that the virus was completely repelled and there was full protection.

This study provides a proof of principle that for a a promising strategy for the prevention and protection against HIV ransmission during sexual intercourse. Importantly, the protection was demonstrated in a non human primate model which represents an essential step prior needed to progress to a prospective clinical trial.

More information: PLOS Pathogens dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1003071

Related Stories

Chinese researchers eye anti-AIDS gel

date Apr 23, 2012

Chinese researchers said Monday they have discovered an HIV-blocking agent that could be developed into a gel to limit the sexual transmission of AIDS.

Recommended for you

HIV reservoirs remain obstacles to cure

date May 19, 2015

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has proven lifesaving for people infected with HIV; however, the medications are a lifelong necessity for most HIV-infected individuals and present practical, logistical, economic ...

Microclinics help keep Kenyan HIV patients in care

date May 18, 2015

A team led by researchers from UC San Francisco, Organic Health Response, and Microclinic International is reporting results of a study that showed significant benefits of microclinics—an innovative intervention ...

'Redesigned' antibodies may control HIV

date May 18, 2015

With the help of a computer program called "Rosetta," researchers at Vanderbilt University have "redesigned" an antibody that has increased potency and can neutralize more strains of the AIDS-causing human ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.