MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Vaginal cream may control HIV transmission

U.S. and Mexican researchers recently developed a vaginal cream using silver nanoparticles to control the transmission of HIV, according to research published in Investigación y Desarrollo.

After discovering that silver nanoparticles are able to block the entry of HIV into organisms, the research team created a vaginal cream able to control the transmission of HIV in laboratory tests. Researchers from the University of Texas collaborated with Humberto Lara Villegas, a specialist in virology and nanoparticles from the University of Monterrey in Mexico, to develop the cream.

HIV enters immune cells with the help of a protein known as GP120, which lets the virus attach to the cells. Silver nanoparticles are able to attach themselves to GP120 and block it, making the virus inactive.

Lara Villegas said the cream demonstrated the efficiency of silver nanoparticles to avoid the transmission of the virus through the cervical mucous membrane in samples of human tissue. He said the cream works in less than a minute and is effective for up to 72 hours.

While there was no toxicity reported with the silver nanoparticles, Lara Villegas said that clinical trials must evaluate the potential side effects of silver.

"Right now, I am certain that this microbicide is going to avoid the virus entering the organism, but I cannot yet assure that is totally harmless, because the clinical trials are a long and expensive process," Lara Villegas said.

Lara Villegas said the cream could likewise prevent the transmission of other sexually-acquired viruses, like human papillomavirus. He said the nanoparticles could be used to fight sexually transmitted bacteria in the same way.