News / Health

    Topical Medication Might Provide Protection Against HIV

    Microbiocide would kill virus where it enters the body

    Boston researchers have developed a topical agent that might block the HIV virus from infecting healthy cells when it enters the body.
    Boston researchers have developed a topical agent that might block the HIV virus from infecting healthy cells when it enters the body.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Art Chimes

    Researchers have developed a topically-applied molecular microbicide capable of preventing HIV transmission. The medication works by silencing the genes that promote infection.

    The microbicide is predicted to have long-lasting effects in mice and could lead to the development of an intravaginal microbicide to protect women against HIV infection, possibly for weeks at a time.

    For years, scientists have tried to develop a topical microbicide to stop HIV transmission. It might be a gel or cream, used vaginally, that would act against the AIDS virus.

    A variety of approaches have been tried. In newly published research, scientists at Harvard Medical School and other institutions show that RNA interference can block the virus from infecting healthy cells.

    RNA interference is used by primitive organisms in place of the kind of immune system that we have. It's only been a decade or so that scientists have been trying to harness it to control human disease.

    Lead researcher Judy Lieberman explains that RNA interference is a mechanism that can silence, or "knock down" the action  of one gene at a time.

    "And so we were able to knock down either viral genes or the host receptor for HIV, which is called CD4, and show that we could prevent the spread of HIV infection in culture."

    Doing that in culture, in the lab, is one thing. It turns out that getting RNA interference to work in the immune cells targeted by HIV is not easy.

    But in a new publication, Lieberman and her colleagues describe how they did it, using mice that were genetically modified to give them a more human-like immune system. "And what this paper shows is a new way to induce gene silencing in immune cells that actually works in vivo," she says.

    This is not the first topical microbicide developed to stop HIV transmission, but Lieberman says the others typically require that a woman use the product just before having sex.

    "And that's a huge impediment. So what's attractive about what we've developed is that the effect appears to be quite durable, and it might be possible to treat yourself and have the protection last for a week or so."

    RNA-interference is not specific to HIV/AIDS. Lieberman says previous research show that RNA can be effective in controlling some cancers and a virus that causes breathing problems in newborn babies.

    But there are still challenges. "The big obstacle has been," Lieberman says, "how do you get these drugs into cells? And what we're excited about is that we now have a way, not only of introducing RNA into cells, but of also targeting them into specific cell types."

    Lieberman says one advantage to RNA-based medicine is that because it is so targeted against specific genes, safety and side effects are less of an issue.

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.