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Silicone vaginal ring may help protect

underprivileged women against HIV, herpes


Published: Sunday 20 September 2015 at 1am PST
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Women's Health / Gynecology
Sexual Health / STDs
Medical Devices / Diagnostics
Preventive Medicine
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The successful creation of a device to deliver drugs that can act on both human
immunodeficiency virus and herpes has been presented at the 55th Interscience
Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, CA.

Researchers say the new silicone vaginal ring could help protect underprivileged women against STIs
such as HIV and herpes.

The silicone vaginal ring can deliver hydrophilic molecules such as tenofovir, which is
active on the most common strain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - HIV-1 - and
acyclovir, which is active on the herpes virus. It is hoped the ring will benefit vulnerable
women at risk of exposure to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).

Its development at the University Jean Monnet of Saint-Etienne, France, was made
possible through the collaboration of a team of virologists, chemists and a silicone
engineer, who designed the apparatus used to create the ring.
The concept of controlled release technology made from polymeric materials was first
established in the 1960s and has been successfully used in vaginal ring devices for
delivering long-acting steroids for the treatment of menopausal symptoms
and contraception. Drug permeability has been an issue in the design of a successful
ring.
The difficulty in creating this ring was that silicone is a hydrophobic compound. The
problem was circumvented by adding a hydrophilic compound to the silicone, which
allows the drugs to be released from their reservoirs.

Effective method will help women to protect themselves


Meriam Memmi, author of the study and PhD candidate, explains that some of the rings
are able to release concentrations of drugs between 1.5-3.5 mg/day for acyclovir and 3-5
mg/day for tenofovir for up to 50 days.
Such doses are capable of preventing viral STIs such as HIV-1 infection, hepatitis
B and genital herpes. The new device demonstrates the ability of silicone rings to
continuously deliver hydrophilic antiviral drugs for a long period of time at a
concentration that can neutralize the viruses present in semen.
It is now planned to have the rings evaluated in clinical trials, after which it is hoped that
they can be produced in large numbers and at low cost.
Cost is important, considering who the rings are designed for. Among women from lowincome countries, STIs of viral origin constitute a major public health concern. Many of
these women become infected with HIV-1 early in their sexual life, while men tend to
contract the disease 7-10 years later in life.
"It is difficult for women in these countries to master the prevention of STIs since the use
of condoms is mainly under the control of men," says Memmi. Vaginal rings can be
inserted and removed by the woman herself.
Memmi adds:
"The aim of our study was to develop a vaginal silicone ring that was nontoxic to the
health of users but was capable of delivering multiple active antiviral molecules against
various STIs, including HIV, for a long duration."

Medical News Today have previously reported on the development of a vaginal ring to
deliver dapivirine, also to be used against HIV. The technology is soon expected to be on
the market.
Written by Yvette Brazier