Researchers have been trying for some time, to design a gel that would protect against sexual transmission of HIV. This would enable people in resource limited settings, or where condom use is a problem, to better protect themselves from infection. The good news is that it

seems that they have succeeded with a new microbicide gel known as MZC.

A recent study published in PLoS ONE, researchers concluded that the gel “provides a durable window of protection” against vaginal and anal infection with multiple strains of HIV. In even better news it seems that the gel is safe to use and also protects against Herpes 2 ( HSV-2, genital herpes) and HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus), the virus responsible for most cases of cervical and anal cancer.

The fact that it protects against multiple different strains of HIV , as well as the other STI’s and has a window of protection of at least 8 hours is fantastic news and means it could potentially be an important weapon in reducing the spread of these sexually transmitted diseases.

The gel contains two different antiviral agents, MIV-150 and zinc acetate . MIV-150 prevents the HIV infected cells from producing new virus and zinc acetate has activity against both HIV and HSV-2. They are mixed together with a third component that has activity against HPV. The fact that it protects against HPV and HSV-2, in addition to HIV, is great news, as both HPV and HSV are known risk factors for acquiring HIV. Furthermore it has been proven effective in reducing the risk of both vaginal and anal infection, another bonus . The gel is also being studied in other forms such as a intra vaginal ring, that can produce a sustained release of the drugs

So far the drug has just been tested in macaque and mice models, so the next step is to do trial on humans to see whether they can replicate the results . The first step, a Phase 1 safety trial will begin enrolment in May 2014, so it will take some time for this product to make its way through the different stages, but there is real hope that this gel could help the fight against HIV and other STI’s.