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HIV Cure Update: New HIV Medication Could Help Protect Women and Children Against the Virus

Aug 02, 2016 02:00 AM EDT
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New HIV medication shows promise in preventing oral and vaginal transmission of the virus in animal models.
(Photo : Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Researchers from the University of Carolina have demonstrated the effectiveness of a new anti-HIV medication 4'-Ethynyl-2-fluoro-2'deoxyadenosine or EFdA in preventing oral and vaginal transmission of the virus in animal models,

Their findings, published in the Journal of the Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, suggests that the new medication can be used to help protect women from acquiring HIV and the transmission of the virus from mother to child through breastfeeding.

"We discovered that EFdA can prevent vaginal transmission of HIV, which would prevent new infections in women. 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," explained Martina Kovarova, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC's School of Medicine and lead author of the study, in a statement.

To test the efficacy of EFdA, the researchers tested the medication on validated pre-clinical humanized mouse models of vaginal and oral transmission. The researchers found out that the new EFdA was able to prevent HIV infection in mice that were exposed multiple times to high doses of HIV, even with just a single daily dose.

With their findings, the researchers are now planning to determine how low of a dose of EFdA can be given to a person while still providing protection against the virus. They also want to find out how long the medication will last in the patient's system in order to determine if a daily dose is necessary or it can be administered significantly less frequently.

According to the study, majority of HIV infections in the world occur in young women and 1.5 million women with HIV become pregnant every year. Also, about 45 percent of HIV-infected mothers, who did not receive any treatment, transmit the virus to their children, usually through breastfeeding.

"The majority of new HIV infections in women and children occur in developing countries with limited resources," said Angela Wahl, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC's School of Medicine and senior author of the study, in a press release. 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."

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