Potential HIV Medication Protects Mother-to-Child Transmission

AUGUST 02, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
pediatrics, infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, OBGYN, women’s health, pregnancy
Untreated pregnant women with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will transmit the infection to their child up to 45% of the time. But researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill found a new anti-HIV medication that effectively prevents transmission.

“The majority of new HIV infections in women and children occur in developing countries with limited resources. The availability of an anti-HIV drug that is potent enough to be used as a preventative agent in both women and infants has the potential to make a significant impact on the global HIV epidemic,” senior author Angela Wahl, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC’s School of Medicine, said in a news release.

Using both in vivo and mouse models, the team demonstrated the effects of 4’-Ethynyl-2-fluoro-2’deoxyadenosine (EFdA). The animals were exposed to high doses of HIV and given one oral dose (10mg/kg) of EFdA. The results published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy revealed that the medication has low toxicity and high potency against drug-resistant HIV strains. In addition, EFdA prevented transmission through more than one route.

“We discovered that EFdA can prevent vaginal transmission of HIV, which would prevent new infections in women. In addition, we were also able to show that EFdA can prevent oral transmission of HIV which would prevent infants who are born to mothers already living with HIV from acquiring the virus during breastfeeding,” confirmed lead author Martin Kovarova, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC’s School of Medicine.

The next step in this research is to find how low of dose can be administered while still protecting against HIV infection. In addition, Kovarova explained that her team will look into how long the medication lasts in the system in order to determine if daily dosing is necessary.

Also on MD Magazine >>> Looking at the Future of HIV from Diagnosis to Cure, Interview with Dr. David Rosenthal

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