More Good News on HIV Prevention, with a Tie to an Elizabeth Glaser Scientist
There’s more good news on the HIV prevention front, and a former Elizabeth Glaser scientist is connected to these positive developments.
(Photo: Olivier Asselin)
Results from a study released last week advance our knowledge in the field of microbicides, and increase our hope of finding a means for women to protect themselves from HIV.
In a controlled research model using a small number of monkeys, the use of a gel – containing a combination of a novel anti-HIV drug and a chemical compound with antiviral activity – up to 24 hours prior to exposure to the virus was 100% protective against infection.
This follows last year’s results from the groundbreaking human trial of a vaginal gel containing the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir, which showed that woman who used the gel regularly were provided with significant protection from HIV infection.
The latest study has important implications for two reasons:
- First, the amount of drug used in this study was a much lower dose than the drug used in last year’s clinical trial, meaning the gel could be easier and less expensive to produce in large quantities.
- Second, the anti-HIV drug used is not one that is currently used for treatment of HIV-infected individuals, meaning that drug resistance for those that do become infected after using the gel could be less of a problem.
I’m writing about this study not only because it is exciting news, but also because it was led by a former Elizabeth Glaser Scientist, Dr. Melissa Robbiani.
Dr. Robbiani and her team at the Population Council and collaborators at Tulane University have been interested in HIV prevention issues for several years. Her interest in HIV prevention has even deeper roots that are close to the Foundation’s heart.
While a junior scientist at Rockefeller University, Dr. Robbiani was awarded one of our most prestigious research funding grants for her studies of how HIV interacts with some of the first cells the virus encounters during transmission.
Those early studies have paved the way for a better understanding of how people become infected with HIV, and also helped establish multiple collaborations that led in part to last week’s results.
We congratulate Dr. Robbiani on the exciting results and wish her continued success moving forward!
To read more about the Foundation’s research efforts preventing and treating HIV, click here
Jeffrey T. Safrit, Ph.D, is the Director of Clinical and Basic Research for the Foundation, based in Los Angeles.