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Dissolvable Strips Made With Tobacco May Fight HIV, STIs

Photo by Pixabay

Tests are ongoing on the strips, which also function as contraceptives.

A dissolvable film containing monoclonal antibodies inserted directly into the vagina are being tested as both a contraceptive and preventative against sexually-transmitted infections.

A report from IFLSciencediscussed the “plantibodies,” which are produced using tobacco plants, and how researchers aim to use them against sperm cells, HIV, and herpes. Each study between the contraceptive and the sexual preventative are occurring separately, with the ultimate goal to combine the two.

The Human Contraception Antibody showed that it could make sperm cells clump within 15 seconds and remained active in vaginal conditions for up to 24 hours. The Phase I clinical trial for sexual preventatives found the tested anti-HIV and herpes antibodies to be generally safe and well tolerated.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a contraceptive that also protects women against sexually transmitted infections,” said study author Professor Deborah Anderson in a statement.

PhD studden Matt Geib added, “There is an enormous gender disparity in the use of and adherence to contraception. The burden most often lands directly on people who could get pregnant. We should always strive to give everyone an option. I hope that the future of contraceptives will hold less invasive, more effective, and more equitable options.”

Anderson also noted that a different clinical trial on the contraceptive antibody film being used in real human couples is set to be published soon. ZabBio Inc, the company working on the HCA vaginal film, indicates that the film’s efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics were tested among monogamous heterosexual couples.

Although the results have yet to be published, Anderson said it “was about as clear-cut as you can get” when referencing the efficacy against sperm movement and function.

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