Coordinated Studentships

Award: Faculty of Pharmacy

Mr. Yufei Chen

Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba

Intravaginal Ring - An Innovative Drug Delivery Strategy for the Prevention of HIV-1 Infection: In 2010, it was estimated that 2.7 million people became newly infected with HIV. HIV infections of women are mainly through sexual transmission. In some regions (eg. sub-Saharan Africa), women are as much as eight times more likely than men to be HIV positive. Thus, there is a desperate need to develop innovative women-controlled prevention strategies against sexual transmission of HIV. Studies have shown that administration of both gp120 (a component of the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1) and IL-12 (cytokine) can elicit the production of neutralizing antibodies (IgG1, IgG2a and IgA) against HIV-1 and enhance local mucosal antibody response to HIV-1. In the case of HIV vaccines, it is ideal to elicit mucosal immunity at the site of transmission (i.e. vagina). The specific aim of this project is to develop a novel bioactive intravaginal delivery vehicle that can locally induce mucosal immunity against HIV-1 via controlled release of gp120 and IL-12 for more than 30 days as a strategy for preventing HIV-1 infection. In brief, the intravaginal delivery system will be designed, fabricated, and characterized for its chemical and physical stability, and protein release rates. It will also be tested both in vitro and in vivo for the evaluation of its biocompatibility, antibody production, and most importantly for its antiviral properties. If successful, this system could be a novel platform for inducing mucosal immunity to a variety of sexually transmitted pathogens. Most importantly, this inexpensive and needle-free method will result in increased user adherence, reduced sterility concerns, and reduction in HIV-1 infection ¬ factors which are significant to developed countries but even more so for third world countries.

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