Vaginal Microbicide Shown Effective in Laboratory Study
NEW YORK (5 January 2011)—Population Council director of biomedical HIV research Melissa Robbiani and her team demonstrated that a vaginal gel called PC-1005 completely protected monkeys from infection with the strain of the virus that causes AIDS in monkeys for up to 24 hours, according to a study published today in PLoS ONE.
PC-1005 contains low doses of MIV-150 and zinc acetate. MIV-150 is a potent non-nucleoside HIV reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or NNRTI, that prevents HIV infection of cells. Zinc acetate is a naturally occurring salt that has antiviral properties. The combination gel was applied once daily during a two-week trial period.
This research is part of the Population Council's efforts to develop and introduce safe, effective microbicides for vaginal and/or rectal use to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. "Based on these excellent results, the MIV-150/zinc acetate gel is the Population Council's lead microbicide candidate," said Robbiani.
The small amount of pharmaceutical ingredients in PC-1005—0.002 percent MIV-150 and 0.3 percent zinc acetate—could translate into a low-cost, safe microbicide. In addition, a product that is used once daily may provide women with a convenient, easy-to-use HIV prevention option.
Robbiani's team also tested a zinc acetate–only version of the gel. While not as effective as the combination product, this formula offers significant protection against simian immunodeficiency virus, and unpublished research indicates that it also may be effective against genital herpes.
Some HIV prevention products under development contain HIV treatment drugs, and there is concern that these candidates could lead to a treatment-resistant strain of HIV. However, MIV-150 and zinc acetate are not used to treat HIV, so there may be reduced risk that the two gels from the Population Council would contribute to the emergence of a drug-resistant form of HIV. Both versions of the microbicide gel have a seaweed-derived carrageenan base, which has been shown to be acceptable to women and safe for long-term vaginal use.
Based on the promising results published in PLoS ONE, as well as in vitro data on safety and efficacy, the Population Council's human testing of both the MIV-150/zinc acetate gel and the zinc acetate–alone gel could begin in early 2012.
Outside funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health, US Agency for International Development, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
Article: Kenney, Jessica, Meropi Aravantinou, Rachel Singer, Mayla Hsu, Aixa Rodriguez, Laris Kizima, Ciby J. Abraham, Radhika Menon, Samantha Seidor, Anne Chudolij, Agegnehu Gettie, James Blanchard, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Michael Piatak Jr., Jose A. Fernández-Romero, Thomas M. Zydowsky, and Melissa Robbiani. 2011. "An antiretroviral/zinc combination gel provides 24 hours of complete protection against vaginal SHIV infection in macaques," PLoS ONE 6(1): E15835. (PDF)
About the Population Council
The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.
firstname.lastname@example.org; +1 212 339 0500
Contacts and Resources
The Population Council welcomes Landis MacKellar as co-editor of Population and Development Review.