Washington: Scientists claim to have developed a new vaginal cream, made-up of silver nanoparticles, that can prevent the transmission of HIV by inactivating the deadly virus.
The cream, when applied, starts to work in less than a minute, and has an effective protection of up to 72 hours, researchers said.
Researchers from the University of Texas found that silver nanoparticles are capable of blocking the entry of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) into the organism.
HIV makes its entry to immune cells (CD4) of the organism with the aid of a protein known as GP120, which allows the virus adherence to the cells.
This same principle is used by silver nanoparticles to attach themselves to this protein and block it, turning the virus inactive.
The vaginal cream, developed in collaboration with Humberto Lara Villegas, specialist in nanoparticles and virology from the University of Monterrey, Mexico (UDEM), has been tested in samples of human tissue.
The cream has proven the efficiency of silver nanoparticles to avoid the transmission of the virus through cervical mucous membrane, Lara Villegas said.
Given that the function of this product is the inactivation of the virus, although this is a vaginal cream, it will also protect the sexual partner, researchers said.
"Normally, the medication used against the virus act within the cell to avoid its replication. This is a very different case, given that the nanoparticle goes directly against the HIV and no longer allows its entry to the cell," Lara Villegas said.
So far, no toxicity of the silver nanoparticles has been reported, but Lara Villegas said that research is yet to be performed to evaluate the possible side effects of silver properties.
"Right now, I am certain that this microbicide is going to avoid the virus entering the organism, but I cannot yet assure that is totally harmless, because the clinical trials are a long and expensive process," Lara Villegas said.
Currently, with the obtained results, researchers will proceed to perform experimentation in mice that accept human cells, to later begin with human clinical trials.
The cream could also prevent the transmission of other sexually acquired virus like the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), researchers said.