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Failure of HIV microbicide raises concerns

A microbicide designed to ward off HIV is unexpectedly linked to an increased risk of infection, prompting speculation about the future of microbicides against HIV

Andrea Gawrylewski
Researchers shut down an HIV microbicide clinical trial last month in Africa and India after early data indicated microbicide users had a higher rate of infection than women using a placebo. The discouraging results have surprised and disappointed researchers, and may ultimately have a negative impact on the future role of microbicides in preventing the spread of the virus. Several other microbicides are in the pipeline for testing and development, but this trial failure may push some researchers in the direction of other HIV prevention options, predicted Daniel Kuritzkes, director of AIDS research at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The field is moving towards more specific approaches -- use of topical applications of antiviral drugs, as opposed to true microbicides," he told The Scientist. "The [closed trial's] results would make me less enthusiastic about pursuing other [microbicides]. I would be a bit leery about getting into microbicide studies."Enrollment...

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