New Agreement Will Speed Research Efforts on Microbicides for Women

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, announces an agreement with the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) to share information and expertise in an effort to develop vaginal microbicides, which are creams, gels or other substances that can be applied topically and may reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

There is an urgent need for products, such as microbicides, that women can use to protect themselves from HIV, notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD. We know that women make up nearly half of all people living with HIV worldwide and that most cases of new HIV infection in women are the result of heterosexual intercourse. This new agreement draws on complementary strengths of our two organizations to speed the progress of promising microbicides through the research and development pipeline.

Adds IPM CEO Zeda Rosenberg, ScD, This agreement opens the door to a range of scientific collaborations that we hope will lead to an effective microbicide as soon as possible.

Although no licensed microbicide is currently available, large-scale effectiveness trials of five candidate microbicides are under way, including an NIAID-sponsored trial that opened in February 2005.

The agreement between NIAID and IPM includes plans for regular interaction between the scientific leadership of the two organizations, information-sharing meetings and joint meetings with microbicide developers supported by NIAID and IPM.

NIAID brings funding resources and expertise in topical microbicide discovery and early product development for HIV and other STIs to the partnership, while IPM has enhanced capacity to design optimal microbicide formulations, manufacture pilot lots of microbicides for clinical testing and implement clinical trials, says Roberta Black, PhD, NIAIDs topical microbicide team leader. The relationship between NIAID and IPM, adds Black, should help accelerate the advance of selected candidate microbicides through key steps, such as formulation optimization, process development and scale-up for manufacture, in the research and development pathway.

Source: National Institutes of Health