9 November 2011
Rectal microbicide could significantly reduce HIV transmission, suggests phase 1 trial
by George Atkinson
A microbicide gel containing a potent anti-HIV drug could significantly reduce infection when applied to rectal tissue, according to the results from a phase 1 clinical trial. The results of the study, carried out by the UCLA AIDS Institute, appear in the journal PLoS ONE.
"While the main goal of this trial was also to evaluate safety, these new tests enabled us to evaluate, indirectly, whether this drug and route of delivery might potentially reduce new HIV infections," said the study's lead author, Dr. Peter Anton.
Until now, microbicide clinical trials have focused on vaginal transmission. The development of a microbicide prevention gel for rectal application has only been under way for the past five to six years. Anton notes that while anal-receptive intercourse is known to be the main route for new HIV infections in men who have sex with men, far more women than men worldwide practice anal intercourse. The risk of HIV infection, per sex act, is anywhere from 20-2,000 times greater with receptive anal sex than receptive vaginal sex.
Though the microbicide used for this study was formulated for vaginal use, the same team of researchers has also developed a rectal-specific microbicide gel, which they plan to start testing in a clinical trial in January 2012. "It is very gratifying that the results were so impressive. This approach reflects the kind of intensive analyses these dedicated participants in these early trials are willing to tolerate to help us evaluate a drug's potential earlier in the pipeline of drug development," concluded Anton.
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Source: University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences