The first project will evaluate the
efficacy of two nonhormonal contraceptive gels that will also protect
women against the high risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The United States has the highest STD
rates in the industrialized world. Of 40 million American women using
contraception, more than three-quarters use a method that puts them at
Besides providing an alternative to
couples who for medical reasons cannot use hormone-based
contraceptives, the two new gels also have the advantage of being less
irritating than current detergent-based products.
The study, funded by the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), will evaluate 1 percent C31G vaginal gel, a
synthetic organic compound manufactured by Biosyn Inc., and BufferGel,
developed jointly by Johns Hopkins University and the private company
"Our goal," says principal investigator
Michael Thomas, MD, "is to find contraceptives that also protect
against STDs like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea and HIV, but with fewer
side effects than current products."
Dr. Thomas, a specialist in reproductive
endocrinology and infertility in the Medical Center's Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, says the C31G vaginal gel, originally
developed as a mouthwash, has a direct spermicidal and germicidal
The NIH has given the C31G study its
"Fast Track" designation, on the grounds that HIV infection is a
serious and life-threatening condition, there is an unmet need for a
female-controlled method to reduce sexual transmission of HIV, and C31G
has the potential to meet that need.