Novel Drug Prevents HIV Transmission in Pre-Clinical Trial

Once-daily dose prevented vaginal and oral HIV transmission in animal models.

A new anti-HIV medication was found to prevent vaginal and oral transmission of HIV in pre-clinical animal models.

HIV remains a global epidemic, with a majority of new infections occurring in young women, posing a major health concern for women and children worldwide. Annually, there are 1.5 million women who are HIV-positive that become pregnant and without an effective treatment, up to 45% of infected mothers will transmit the virus to their child, typically through breast feeding.

In a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, researchers tested the efficacy of the new drug 4’-Ethynyl-2-fluoro-2’deoxyadenosine (EFdA) in vivo using pre-clinical humanized mouse models of vaginal and oral HIV transmission. In both of the studies, researchers found that a once-daily dose of EFdA prevented HIV infection in mice exposed multiple times to high doses of the virus.

“We discovered that EFdA can prevent vaginal transmission of HIV, which would prevent new infections in women,” said lead study author Martina Kovarova, PhD. “In addition, we were also able to show that EFdA can prevent oral transmission of HIV which would prevent infants who are born to mothers already living with HIV from acquiring the virus during breastfeeding.

“Our results are very encouraging. We will now try to determine how low of a dose you can give while still providing protection against HIV, and how long the medication will last in your system to see if daily dosing is needed or if it can be administered significantly less frequently.”

Since women and children are vulnerable to HIV, the study’s findings may help further combat the virus and make an impact on this global health issue.

“The majority of new HIV infections in women and children occur in developing countries with limited resources,” said senior study author Angela Wahl, PhD. “The availability of an anti-HIV drug that is potent enough to be used as a preventative agent in both women and infants has the potential to make a significant impact on the global HIV epidemic.”