Los Angeles Times Examines Efforts To Develop Microbicides
There is "slow but steady progress" in microbicide development, according to researchers at the XVI International AIDS Conference, the Los Angeles Times reports (Chong, Los Angeles Times, 8/17). Microbicides include a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other infections (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16). One team of researchers from the International Partnership for Microbicides on Wednesday said a microbicide in the form of a vaginal ring has passed its first safety tests and consistently released antiviral drugs over seven days, as designed. The group is conducting market research in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia to determine whether women will use the product. A separate clinical trial in monkeys showed that microbicides provided protection from HIV, sometimes for days when applied regularly. In addition, five gel-based microbicides are in the final stages of clinical trials, and results could be ready by 2007, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 8/17). Researchers at the conference on Tuesday also said although microbicide research is promising, several obstacles -- such as cost, lack of trial sites and health workers in developing countries and ethical issues -- remain before they can reach the market (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16). The idea of microbicides has been around since the early 1990s, but researchers until now have been more focused on developing an AIDS vaccine, according to John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University's Weill Medical College who worked on the microbicides trial in monkeys. He said, "It's becoming increasingly realized that developing a vaccine is extraordinarily difficult. In the absence of a vaccine, alternative prevention technologies have got to be on the forefront" (Los Angeles Times, 8/17).
Kaisernetwork.org is serving as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006. Watch the webcast of a session on microbicides.