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Topical ideas for HIV

Two studies propose the use of known compounds to block HIV at the vaginal epithelium, the most common site of initial infection. The compounds, glycerol monolaurate, a mild surfactant, and griffithsin, an algal protein, showed efficacy in animal and tissue culture models of HIV infection through distinct but complementary mechanisms. The challenge now is to formulate the prophylactic agents.

Glycerol monolaurate (GML) has already been studied in Phase I trials for other indications and is thus ready for industry partnering for an efficacy trial, according to the authors of the Nature paper, who were led by Ashley Haase, professor of microbiology at the University of Minnesota.1 Indeed, one member of the research team is already working on applications of GML for sexually transmitted infections with Johnson & Johnson.

Meanwhile, griffithsin was manufactured and tested by an industry-academic team led by Kenneth Palmer, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.2Other team members included researchers from Kentucky Bioprocessing LLC,acompany the specializes in producing transgenic proteins in plants, and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC, which focuses on the development of antiviral biotherapeutics that block viral entry. The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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