Journal Article

Development of a vaginal fast-dissolving insert combining griffithsin and carrageenan for potential use against sexually transmitted infections

Precoital, on-demand topical microbicides to reduce a woman’s risk of sexually transmitted infections have been in development for nearly three decades, but no product has been approved due to acceptability issues and poor adherence in clinical trials. We set out to develop a self-administered vaginal fast-dissolving insert (FDI) produced by freeze-drying that would deliver safe and effective amounts of the antiviral agents griffithsin (GRFT) and carrageenan (CG) and would have properties women and their partners find acceptable. We evaluated FDI physical criteria, attributes of the gel produced upon dissolving, and GRFT stability. The lead formulation, FDI-024, was selected from 13 candidates and contains 4 mg of GRFT, 15 mg of CG, and excipients (the cryoprotectant sucrose and bulking agents dextran 40 and mannitol). The FDI exhibits good friability and hardness and is stable for at least 6 months at up to 40°C/75% relative humidity. It disintegrates in less than 60 seconds in a physiologically relevant volume (∼1 mL) of simulated vaginal fluid, forming a viscous semi-solid gel with favorable mucoadhesive and spreading properties. The formulation retains the antiviral activity of GRFT and CG against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and human papillomavirus, respectively, in cell-based assays.