The NIH adds $4.5 million to UCLA's existing HIV microbicide research grant

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Dr. Peter Anton, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, a $4.5-million supplemental grant to expand the Center for HIV Prevention and Research's ongoing efforts to develop microbicides to combat the transmission of HIV.

The new grant is in three annual increments of $1.5 million each beginning Oct. 1 and will support collaborative work with Johns Hopkins University, University of Pittsburgh and CONRAD, a cooperating agency of USAID focused on expanding contraceptive choices and preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The grant supplements a five-year $12.7-million award for microbicide research Anton received in 2004 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an arm of the NIH, supporting a collaborative effort between academia, industry and the government to develop and bring novel microbicidal drugs to early human safety testing.

In the absence of an HIV vaccine, microbicides are the most promising weapon against the transmission of AIDS. The development of products that are easy to use and readily available is critically relevant to reducing and eliminating the transmission of HIV among at-risk populations around the world.

The original grant gathered an international team of researchers from eight institutions to work on understanding the effect of vaginal microbicides (currently in Phase 3 trials) on rectal mucosal tissue with the aim of developing a rectal-specific microbicide within five years." The supplemental grant will enable focused formulation efforts and trials to develop a rectal specific microbicide.

"This is effectively a continuation of the previous grant," Anton said. "This collaborative group combines pretty much the only ones worldwide doing this kind of formulation and development. We all hope these products will be available soon, likely before a vaccine, to help reduce the spread of HIV."

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Established in 1992, the UCLA AIDS Institute is a multidisciplinary program drawing on the skills of top-flight researchers in the worldwide fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the first cases of which were reported in 1981 by UCLA physicians. Institute members include researchers in virology and immunology, genetics, cancer, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, social science, public health, nursing and disease prevention. Their findings have led to advances in treating HIV as well as other diseases such as hepatitis B and C, influenza and cancer.


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