Use of Certain Antibiotics in Topical Cream Could Prevent HIV Transmission, Study Says

A class of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides could be used to make a topical cream that would trigger production of a protein in humans to prevent HIV transmission, according to a study published Tuesday in PLoS Biology, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

For the study, researchers led by Alexander Cole of the University of Central Florida used the antibiotics to trigger a dormant human gene to produce a protein called retrocyclins that resists HIV transmission. The researchers applied the antibiotics to vaginal tissues and cervical cells and found that it stimulated the tissues and cells to produce retrocyclins. Cole said there is a "good chance the aminoglycosides antibiotics will be used in a topical cream as a way to prevent the transmission of HIV from men to women." He noted that more research, including human trials, is necessary to determine the safety and efficacy of a potential cream.

Cole said the discovery that aminoglycosides can trigger cells to produce retrocyclins is a "promising find," adding that the researchers "will be moving forward with this -- full steam ahead." Phalguni Gupta, a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in infectious diseases, said the research is "very hopeful," adding that the use of aminoglycosides in a cream or gel would be an "important part of the arsenal in the fight against" HIV/AIDS (Quintero, Orlando Sentinnel, 4/28).

Online The study is available online.

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