Gel being developed to allow women to control fertility,reduce sexually-transmitted disease risk, including HIV, herpes

(Blacksburg, Va.) -- A research team representing public and private laboratories is developing a gel that will allow women to discreetly control their fertility and reduce the risk of infection from sexually transmitted diseases. The research was presented at the 219th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting March 26-30 in San Francisco.

Virginia Tech chemistry professor Richard Gandour explains that the acylcarnitium analog, which the researchers call Z-15, has demonstrated in vitro that it is an excellent spermicide and that it inhibits HIV, yeast infection, herpes, and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). "This is a product with a lot of potential that we will continue to work with to improve its activity against STDs," says Gandour.

"We want to develop an all-in-one product," says Prashant Savle. As a research scientist at Virginia Tech, he synthesized a series of analogues, including Z-15, from the natural chemical, (R)-carnitine.

"Dr. Salve devised an all synthetic route and executed it quickly and brilliantly, making this effective, affordable product possible," says Gandour. As a gel, the product could be used to coat vaginal contraceptive devices, such as diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge, and condoms, "but the goal is to develop a product for topical application for use by women who are in circumstances or cultures where they can't insist upon or do not have access to other forms of birth control or prevention against STDs," says Gustavo F. Doncel, who has been in charge of the biological characterization of this promising agent. He is head of the Sperm Biology and Contraceptive Research Laboratory of the Contraceptive Research and Development (CONRAD) Program at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. The research has been sponsored by CONRAD (http://www.conrad.org). The program, under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has as its primary o

Contact: Dr. Richard Gandour
Virginia Tech

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