A new study has revived hopes for an effective vaginal microbicide in preventing the transmission of HIV. A compound widely used in cosmetics and foods can block transmission of the virus by interfering with the immunological steps to infection, linkurl:researchers report;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature07831.html in Nature this week.
Representation of virus expansion
after SIV exposure. Green
crosses: clusters of infected cells.

Image: A. Haase
The compound's microbicide potential has so far been tested in vivo only in monkeys, but in vitro results suggest it also works against the human version of the virus. "I think this is a really exciting study," said linkurl:Melissa Robbiani,;http://www.popcouncil.org/staff/bios/Robbiani_M/robbiani_m.bio.html senior scientist at the Population Council, a New York research and policy nonprofit focused on AIDS and reproductive health. To date, most microbicides under development work by simply blocking the virus from entering the body or target cells, said Robbiani, who was not involved in the research, "whereas this...

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