A tweezer-shaped molecule could offer a more effective method for preventing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C through seminal transmission. The molecule, CLR01, has already proven successful in tests on zebrafish and mice. Positive results in early trials has led an international team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Germany’s Ulm University to suggest the molecule could effectively prevent HIV transmission as a vaginal or anal gel.
"We think that CLR01 could be more effective than other microbicides that are in development because of its dual action, its safety in terms of side effects and its potential broad application," noted James Shorter, coauthor of the study on CLR01 published this week in eLife.
CLR01 has been shown to not only instantly destroy HIV particles but to also block the development of amyloid fibrils polymers in semen. These tenacious fibers, which help make HIV so infectious, are formed when normally soluble proteins assemble to form insoluble fibers resistant to degradation.
The team behind the molecule study believes CLR01 will be particularly effective because it can launch this two-pronged attack against HIV. The molecule destroys the HIV virus membrane without impacting other (benefitial) membranes in the patient’s body. This is why the scientists believe the molecule would be effective in preventing HIV transmission through seminal fluids if applied as a gel.
In a press release, the researchers note, "The way CLR01 operates means that it is also effective against many other sexually transmitted viruses, including Hepatitis C and viruses in the herpes family. It may also be effective against many other 'enveloped' viruses including flu and Ebola."