Scientists 'baffled' by gel results

2011-11-29 12:22

Johannesburg - A vaginal gel researchers had hoped would help prevent HIV transmission for women is ineffective, according to a report on Tuesday.

Researchers leading the Tenofovir gel study at 15 sites across South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe recommended that 5 000 women who participated in the trial should stop using it, The Times reported.

The results of this second study shocked scientists when they proved the gel, developed by researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, could not save millions of lives.

Last year, the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA found the gel was 39% successful in preventing HIV infection.


Director of the Aids research centre Professor Salim Abdool Karim said he was "baffled" by the results of the new study.

"This was totally unexpected because there was good evidence from laboratory research, animal studies and human trials, which showed that Tenofovir gel prevented Aids," he was quoted as saying.

He and his wife, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, were expecting to have the gel in clinics next year, but the new findings sent them back to the drawing board.

He said it was not clear whether the new result was due to inadequate use of the gel by women participating in the study, insufficient drug levels in the women at the time of HIV exposure, or some other reason.

The couple was widely lauded after the gel was presented at the International Aids Conference in Vienna last year - where the global microbicide research community agreed a second study was needed to confirm the protective effects of the gel.

The study saw participants, aged between 18 and 30, using the gel 12 hours before intercourse and within 12 hours after intercourse.

Funders included amongst others, the science and technology department, the US government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • Luke - 2011-11-29 12:32

    I think that the pharmacutical companies have a lot to lose if this gel was the real deal (which it may probably be). can you imagine the lose of profit from "mainstream" drugs sold around the world, let alone the piles of money shoveled into "research".

      Thian - 2011-11-29 12:39

      Man, are your hitting the nail on the head. They will probably make sure that this gel's success will never come to pass. look out for the propaganda to discredit this product.

      Sam - 2011-11-29 12:44

      This is backed by pharma, Luke. Like any good scientific trial, the results always need to be verified.

      Andrew - 2011-11-29 12:49

      Don't think the pharma companies make much money on HIV/AIDs drugs, that's why there isn't the same focus on it as there is for viruses such as HCV. The majority of HIV-infected people are poor and live in third-world countries. The patients can't afford the medications and neither can the governments (that's why SA government got into all that trouble in early 2000s when they infringed various patents and tried to use generic versions of patented antivirals). On average it costs around US$1 billion to develop a drug and the return on such investment isn't really there for HIV. That's probably why this research is being conducted by the university; would be a government funded project.

      Deon - 2011-11-29 13:12

      Prevention and treatment of the diseases is far removed from each other and not in competition.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2011-11-29 16:25

      Devils advocate ask if they jimmyed the initial studies to access further grant funding?

  • robbie.crouch - 2011-11-29 12:49

    Prevention is only possible by not sleeping around...

      Neill - 2011-11-29 13:18

      I agree with you, but unfortunately most agree, but don't practice it when push comes to shove... They think it will not happen to them. Think back to your first time. I bet the last thing on your mind was a STD/AIDS/HIV.

      Deon - 2011-11-29 13:49

      It is a good start, try to also prevent a needle prick, being raped and HIV+ mother.

  • pbonoko - 2011-11-29 13:20

    Another KZN mafia want to make quick cash and put south african life at risk. Is it a professoer or family business as the wife is involved (another more or less mac maharaj story. for such Tooth paste like substance quickly the wifes already counting tender bonuses... cry our beloved country

      Mike - 2011-11-29 13:34

      What a plonker you are. Get an exit ticket and collect your Darwin Award !

      Deon - 2011-11-29 15:17

      Rather read the article again 5 times.

  • thurlo.cicero - 2011-11-29 13:42

    Well it doesn't help giving the "gel" to already infected women. I suspect this might the case and the reason for the flawed results. #justsaying

  • Robin Dyers - 2011-11-29 14:51

    I thought they had pulled the plug on this 2 years ago due to failed anticipated results in another randomized control trial.

  • Pierre - 2011-11-29 15:46

    Research in SA found the gel was 39% successful in preventing HIV infection. Reading this I was shocked, does this mean that 61% of the test subjects contracted HIV, How was this tested, did they have unprotected sex with HIV infected people to test, can this be explained.

      modmario - 2011-11-29 17:38

      HIV+ people can get re-infected, that is what what makes HIV so difficult to cure, cause it adapts to your DNA and RNA, like your fingerprints it creates it's own unique strain and hides in your blood/body, so it crooks your own body to believe it should be there and is part of your system. So in affect if one HIV+ person on antiretrovirals contracts the strain of an other HIV+ person, the virus then creates again a new strain, which is of major concern, because the reinfected person's medication is useless and they then need to go on an other "med cocktail", and there is only so many working "cocktails" on the market, with every infection the HIV virus learns, adapts, and evolves(LIKE ALL BIO WARFARE WEAPONS,think about it, which country drops Atomic Bombs before fully knowing the result, HIV seems man made). So for clinical trails they usually use HIV+ people that are on their first cocktail with a relatively junior strain of the virus, but all participants willingly participates and gets paid well, some psychos out there we are all going to die right.

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