Starpharma to develop condoms coated with microbicide

23 October, 2007

Starpharma, the pharmaceutical company based in Melbourne, Australia, plans to develop condoms coated with Starpharma’s microbicide called VivaGel, which helps block human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes infections.

Starpharma owns the Durex brand of condoms.

The vaginal microbicide, called VivaGel, has been found to prevent HIV and genital herpes in animal and human studies presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney, Australia, in July 2007.

VivaGel is designed to work by preventing viruses from entering cells, thus avoiding infection.

The active ingredient in the microbicide is dendrimer, a molecule which binds itself to the viruses and prevents them from infecting healthy cells.

In the early stages of research, the gel also was found to be a potent contraceptive.

VivaGel has undergone testing in Australia, the United States and Kenya, and is still in clinical trials.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in January 2006 granted an accelerated review of VivaGel. The agency has also announced that it would become more involved in further human trials of the gel.

According to Starpharma, VivaGel did not cause any harmful side effects in trials conducted on 35 women in Australia and it was effective in preventing the spread of genital herpes.

The University of South Florida and the University of Puerto Rico had in July 2007 conducted a two-week clinical trial of VivaGel that was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) of the United States. The clinical trial involved 40 sexually active, HIV-negative women between ages 18 and 24.

VivaGel also has undergone testing in Kenya and still is in clinical trials.

Starpharma says it will create a development programme for the VivaGel-coated condoms and negotiate for commercial licence.

VivaGel-coated condoms are expected to be available worldwide by 2008.

Dr Jackie Fairley, CEO of Starpharma, said microbicides were considered one of the most attractive, new prevention options for sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and that they are a much-needed option for Third World nations like the sub-Saharan Africa where HIV and genital herpes rates are the highest in the world.






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