Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Cornell researchers develop anti-viral vaginal ring

By Jason Norris
Published: May 27th, 2009

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College have published results showing that a new contraceptive device may also effectively block the transmission of the HIV virus. The promising results are published in the most recent issue of the journal AIDS. The new device is a vaginal ring that releases multiple types of non-hormonal agents and microbicides, which prevent conception as well as sexually transmitted HIV infection. “This device is a new approach to birth control, because it avoids the long-term use of hormonal methods that have been associated with increased risk of certain cancers,” says lead author Dr. Brij Saxena. “This is the first device to simultaneously offer the possibility to prevent unintended pregnancy and HIV transmission.” In the absence of a vaccine, adds co-author Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, “the next best thing would be something that would prevent infection and put the power in the susceptible female partner’s control. That’s the potential a device such as this can offer.” The vaginally inserted ring is incorporated with multiple antiviral drugs that prevent HIV infection and are time-released over a period up to 28 days. The compounds tested were a newly developed anti-HIV agent, Boc-lysinated betulonic acid, TMC120 (dapivirine), PMPA, and 3′-azido-3′-deoxythymidine (AZT or zidovudine), which, when combined, were found to block infection in human cells exposed to the virus in a laboratory setting. The ring is also infused with compounds that prevent pregnancy by arresting sperm motility, raising vaginal mucous viscosity, and sustaining an acidity level within the vagina in which sperm do not survive. Traditionally, similar devices have used hormonal compounds that have been linked to increased risk of breast and cervical cancers, or spermicidal compounds that kill sperm but may lead to irritation and inflammation. “The compounds in the device are natural materials that are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in humans,” explains Dr. Saxena.

Go to: Newswise

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