An experimental sex lubricant designed by Australian researchers could help block both HIV and genital herpes, a study suggests.
Tests on lab animals have shown that the microbicide gel, called Viva Gel, inactivates the HIV virus and another responsible for genital herpes.
Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Paull from Melbourne-based pharmaceutical company Starpharma told the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney the gel would be used by heterosexual men who apply it directly to themselves before sex.
It would be most useful in sub-Saharan African nations where the HIV epidemic is mostly seen among heterosexuals.
The active ingredient in the microbicide is dendrimer, a molecule which binds itself to the viruses and prevents them from infecting healthy cells, Dr Paull said.
Recent trials on animals have shown it is between 85 and 100 per cent effective at blocking both viruses.
Safety trials of the gel are now underway in humans. The first results, presented at the congress, show it is safe and well tolerated in healthy men, uncircumcised or not.
Dr Paull said the gel's ability to prevent genital herpes was particularly positive, news.com.au reports.
VivaGel(TM) is being developed as a topical vaginal microbicide for the prevention of HIV and genital herpes, and is currently under investigation in healthy female volunteers in two separate expanded safety clinical trials at four sites in the U.S. and Kenya. VivaGel(TM) also shows promise as a contraceptive agent.
VivaGel(TM) is also being explored as a condom coating following the recent signing of an agreement with a leading international condom company.
The agreement includes a program of evaluation and development and also commercialisation rights covering condoms with VivaGel(TM) coatings within a specified geographical region. The condom company, whose name may not be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality, holds the leading market position within that region. The market in question is in the developed world, and ranks within the top five globally, measured by GDP, CNNMoney.com reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik