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Compound Could Be Useful As an HIV Microbicide

Glycerol monolaurate linked to protection from vaginal simian immunodeficiency virus infection in monkeys

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The use of glycerol monolaurate to protect monkeys from infection following intravaginal exposure to simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) points to the potential efficacy of this product against HIV in humans, according to research published online Mar. 4 in the journal Nature.

In their study, Qingsheng Li, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues report the results of their work in rhesus macaque monkeys, in which SIV infection expands from a small number of cells at the entry of transmission into systemic infection. They found that the innate immune and inflammatory response offers target cells for local expansion and widespread dissemination.

The researchers challenged five monkeys intravaginally with SIV; the monkeys were also treated with glycerol monolaurate (GML) in K-Y gel. GML-treated animals were protected from acute systemic infection after exposure to SIV, whereas control monkeys treated only with K-Y gel became infected.

"Even conservative estimates of efficacy greater than or equal to 60 percent extrapolate, according to mathematical models, to 2.5 million averted HIV infections over a three-year period, thus providing rationale and motivation for human trials of GML alone as a microbicide, and/or combined with other agents that specifically inhibit HIV-1 replication," the authors conclude. "More generally, other microbes may exploit mucosal signaling and the innate inflammatory response to establish infection, so that GML may be the first example of a class of compounds that provide protection by interfering with these responses."

Abstract
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