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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora