SRI International, a global nonprofit research institute, has received a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that will support the development of a topical microbicide gel for combination therapy against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections in women.
As part of the grant, SRI International researchers will develop and test a prototype bioadhesive formulation for sustained delivery of the antiviral drugs tenofovir and acyclovir to the vaginal surface. Because chronic HSV-2 infections have been shown to speed the progression of immunodeficiency disease, researchers are focused on developing a microbicide that prevents both HIV and HSV-2 infections.
“The inexpensive and easy-to-use combination therapy in development could help contain the spread of HIV and HSV, and possibly other sexually transmitted diseases,” said Gita Shankar, Ph.D., director of formulations R&D, SRI Biosciences. “One of the strongest benefits of a topical gel formula is that it can offer protection when options such as condoms are unavailable or unacceptable.”
The awarded grant is for two years with a possible extension of three additional years. Development work will focus on creating a combination therapy that will limit the risk of drug resistance, while providing women with safe and sustained drug delivery. The novel product will be based on a patented bioadhesive polymeric platform developed at SRI.