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New measures to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission

While the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine remains a hopeful avenue of research, there is a real and pressing need to expand the range of preventive measures against the disease. Microbicides, substances that can prevent sexual transmission of HIV, represent one of the most promising areas of research currently being pursued by the European Commission.

Research in this field is aimed at developing anti-HIV microbicides that are equally effective in preventing heterosexual and homosexual transmission of the virus. Self-administered topically- applied microbicides would, in particular, empower women – who may have difficulties in negotiating the use of condoms with their sexual partners – to exert more control over their own HIV/AIDS destinies.

EMPRO – European Microbicides Project

This EU-funded project is developing new topical microbicides that block the entry of HIV at mucosal sites. The aim is to establish a pipeline of candidate microbicides from basic research through early human testing.

Newly developed molecules will be screened for inhibition of specific viral proteins or viral receptors. Efficacy will be rigorously tested in vitro, and the most promising compounds will then be further developed. Particular emphasis will be placed on compounds demonstrating synergistic activity with products more advanced in the development process. The EMPRO project should also provide a rational basis for the design of future microbicides.

www.empro.org.uk

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