A topical microbicide reduces the probability of virus transmission when applied to the vagina or rectum of a person at risk of sexually acquiring HIV-1 infection. An effective microbicide could significantly reduce the global spread of HIV-1, particularly if women were able to use it covertly to protect themselves. A microbicide could target the incoming virus and either permanently inactivate it or reduce its infectivity, or it could block receptors on susceptible cells near the sites of transmission. We describe here how vaginal administration of the broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibody b12 can protect macaques from simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) infection through the vagina. Only 3 of 12 animals receiving 5 mg b12 vaginally in either saline or a gel and then challenged vaginally (up to 2 h later) with SHIV-162P4 became infected. In contrast, infection occurred in 12 of 13 animals given various control agents under similar conditions. Lower amounts of b12 were less effective, suggesting that protection was dose dependent. These observations support the concept that viral entry inhibitors can help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV-1 to humans.
Nature Medicine (2003) 9 (3) pp. 343-346 [doi:10.1038/nm833].