An Australian biotech firm has developed a gel for condoms that fights sexually transmitted diseases, proven effective in killing 99.9% of viruses
A condom that can kill off most sexually transmitted viruses, including HIV, herpes and HPV is one step closer to coming to market.
The condom, which will be manufactured by Australian prophylactic company, Ansell, is laced with VivaGel lubricant – a unique antimicrobial agent developed by Starpharma, an Australian bio-tech firm. The solution has been shown to inactivate up to 99.9% of viruses including the viruses that commonly cause sexually transmitted infections.
Recently, Starpharma received Conformity Assessment Certification for the VivaGel condom by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration – which is similar to receiving FDA approval in the US. This means that the condom could begin to be manufactured in a matter of months.
Thanks to a licensing agreement with Starpharma, Ansell will sell the condom as a part of its Lifestyles Dual Protect range. The biotech firm will receive royalties for the coated condom.
While condoms are generally considered the most effective way to protect against STIs, the addition of the VivaGel lubricants strengthens their barrier capabilities. Starpharma’s chief executive Dr. Jackie Fairley says:
Condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing either pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections and so anything that you can do to reduce the number of virus particles by inactivating them with a substance like VivaGel would reduce reduce that overall viral load.
But Fairley warns that VivaGel is an added precaution and not fool-proof, saying, “The more viral particles you’re exposed to, that typically translates into a greater chance of infection.”
The news is timely as Australia is experiencing a rise in STIs, especially genital herpes, which currently affects 1 in 8 Australians over the age of 25. Similarly – and perhaps more shocking – is the rise in HIV diagnoses, with a 10% rise in recent years, with 2013 marking a 20-year high in the amount of HIV infections diagnosed.
The announcement of the regulatory feat follows the March approval of VivaGel in Japan, where condom marketer Opkamoto Industries will hold a license for the product. In the US, meanwhile, VivaGel is still undergoing clinical trials.