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Bioscience Faculty Present at International AIDS Conference
As the AIDS epidemic claims more lives daily and requires dedicated science, Drexel research is helping to produce economic and innovative treatments to overcome this global problem. Drs. Mary K. Howett, department head of bioscience and biotechnology, and Sandra Urdaneta, Drexel research associate, presented novel research on preventing the spread of several sexually transmitted viruses at the 15th Annual International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Their presentations demonstrated developments in reducing the spread of HIV via new microbicides.
Howett exhibited her work on a possible microbicide which inactivates HIV-1, human papillomavirus, and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) in the poster “Alkyl Sulfate Microbicidal Activity in a Commonly Used Vaginal Preparation.” The microbicide contains an agent known as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), which is inexpensive, readily available, easily distributed and nontoxic. This agent is available in topically applied prescription products and does not damage vaginal tissue as other hopeful microbicides have done.
Urdaneta presented new developments on treating breast milk with SDS to prevent transmission of HIV-1 from mother to child in “Microbicidal Compounds for Treatment of HIV-1 infected Breast Milk to Prevent Postnatal Transmission of HIV-1.” The methods outlined in her poster suggest an economic way to make breastfeeding safer for HIV-1 infected mothers.
The poster “A Human Xenograft Model to Study the Interaction of Sexually Transmitted Viruses” by research associate Li Fang, demonstrated a unique manner for studying sexually transmitted diseases. Howett and her associates have developed a technique to graft human vaginal tissue to mice by which infections of HPV and HSV-2 may be studied. The research shows that identified HSV-2 gene products may interfere with HPV disease progression.