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Topical Agent Found To Kill Papillomavirus

HERSHEY, PA--A common surfactant and detergent found in many shampoos and toothpastes is the first topical microbicidal agent shown to kill animal and human papillomavirus, according to a Penn State researcher. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was found in cell culture and animal testing to inactivate sexually transmitted viruses including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and human papillomaviruses (HPVs). These viruses cause AIDS, genital herpes and genital warts, respectively.

"This is a major step toward our goal of producing a practical, non-toxic, inexpensive, discreet product which women can apply topically to the vagina prior to intercourse -- a product which would protect them from HPV infection even during encounters with infected partners," explains Mary K. Howett, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at Penn State's College of Medicine. "In the case of previously infected women, this agent could prevent them from transmitting the virus to their partners. In addition, this agent could be used alone or with other currently available microbicides or spermicides to prevent HSV-2 and HIV transmission."

Howett and her colleagues' work titled, "A Broad-Spectrum Microbicide with Virucidal Activity against Sexually Transmitted Viruses," is published in the February issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Howett says it will take at least several years before such products will be produced for use in humans. However, she adds that such products could greatly reduce cervical cancer.

Protection from genital wart viruses is important to public health because lesions caused by these viruses can progress to cancer, most notably cancer of the uterine cervix. This cancer causes 5,000 deaths per year in women in the U.S. In the developing world, cervical cancer is the number one cause of cancer related deaths in women. Worldwide, 250,000 women die annua
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Contact: Leilyn Perri
lperri@psghs.edu
717-531-8604
Penn State
12-Feb-1999


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