BACKGROUND: Vaginal agents which are antiviral and/or inhibit the entry of HIV into the cell could prevent heterosexual transmission of HIV, and protect women who cannot negotiate condom use. METHODS: Four agents have been investigated for activity in vitro and in vivo against SHIV(89.6PD): two anionic polymers, dextrin-2-sulphate (D2S) and PRO 2000 (P2K), and two virucidal agents; a non-ionic detergent, nonoxynol-9 (N9) and a cyclic peptide ionophore, gramicidin-D (GD). All four agents were investigated in rhesus macaques, using an intra-vaginal challenge of two inoculations of 1 x 104 50% tissue culture infectious doses (TCID)50 of SHIV(89.6PD). RESULTS: D2S, P2K, GD and N9 all inhibited SHIV(89.6PD) in vitro. In vivo, three out of four control macaques were infected as judged by viral culture, seroconversion, DNA and RNA PCR; infection was confirmed in four out of eight macaques pre-treated with P2K, two out of four pre-treated with D2S, one out of four pre-treated with N9, two out of four pre-treated with GD and four out of four pre-treated with D2S + GD, a combination additive in vitro. INTERPRETATION: D2S and PRO-2000, novel inhibitors of HIV entry, showed evidence of protection in vivo, comparable to that seen with the virucide, N9. These data, together with the results of phase I and phase II studies in healthy women which have shown minimal toxicity, support plans for a phase III efficacy trial of chemically simple inhibitors of HIV entry with low toxicity, for the prevention of HIV infection in women.
AIDS (2001) 15 (12) pp. 1563-1568.