BY Bob Adams
October 01 2004 12:00 AM ET
Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed spending $30 million on microbicide development in 2005 at the U.S. Agency for International Development, an increase of $8 million over 2004 funding levels, according to the Alliance for Microbicide Development and the International Partnership for Microbicides. The allocation, part of a foreign operations funding bill, was championed by U.S. representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona.
'We applaud Representative Kolbe for recognizing the great promise of microbicides,' says Polly Harrison, alliance director, 'but microbicide funding is still woefully inadequate and greater leadership is needed. Representative Kolbe should further his commitment by introducing the Microbicide Development Act in the House and giving a substantial and necessary boost to the future of microbicide research.'
If passed, the act would establish a microbicide research and development branch at the National Institutes of Health as well as strengthen microbicide work at USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, most federal microbicide research grants come from the NIH and are administered through several institutes with no single line of administrative accountability, no funding coordination, and varying levels of interest and commitment by federal health officials. The bill was introduced in the Senate in 2003 by Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey and has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Similar House bills introduced in 2000 and 2001 died in subcommittees.
Overseas, the European Commission recently granted 3.8 million euros (U.S. $4.6 million) to an integrated microbicide research project called Selection of an Anti-HIV Product for Vaginal Application. The project, which is evaluating a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor microbicide called MC1220, will be carried out by 11 research teams from five European countries and Gabon in Africa. The compound was discovered by researchers at the University of Cagliari in Italy and Idenix Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Mass.