Researchers with the Microbicide Trials Network received $70 million for the next 7 years to develop and test products that can reduce the transmission of HIV, according to a press release.
Based out of the University of Pittsburgh and the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) is one of five HIV/AIDS clinical trial networks sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Since 2006, the MTN has completed 13 clinical trials, and 11 more trials are in progress or will commence within 12 months.
The MTN is focusing research on the development of microbicide devices applied inside the vagina or rectum to prevent HIV transmission.
“Although progress in the field of HIV prevention and treatment has been nothing short of breathtaking over the last decade, there are two groups who continue to have high rates of new HIV infections — young women and men who have sex with men,” Sharon Hillier, PhD, professor and vice chair for faculty affairs at the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in the press release. “To address the HIV epidemic in young women, we currently are conducting a large phase 3 trial of a vaginal ring that women use for a month at a time. Moving forward, we are committed to developing products that could prevent both HIV and unwanted pregnancy, which would empower young women to take charge of their own reproductive health.”
Ian McGowan, MD, PhD, of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a member of the Magee-Womens Research Institute, said future MTN research also will focus on HIV prevention in other populations as well, including transgender women and heterosexual women who have anal intercourse.
“Ultimately, we want to identify a lubricant-like product that both men and women can use to protect themselves from acquiring HIV during anal sex,” McGowan said. “Our entire scientific agenda is focused on conducting the kind of studies that can get safe and effective HIV prevention products approved for widespread use, whether these [are] vaginal or rectal microbicides. Clearly, we can’t end the HIV epidemic with condoms alone.”