Joseph Romano, Ph.D., has been involved in HIV/AIDS research and development for 20 years. In the last decade, he has focused on the development of HIV microbicides. We checked in with Joseph to get his thoughts on a number of things: the microbicide pipeline, the recent HPTN 052 results, clinical trials and the hardest part about his job.
MP: How would you characterize the state of the microbicide pipeline? Right now, the main focus seems to be on ARV-based products. Is there a chance that we may see some non-ARV-based microbicide products in the near future?
JR: The current focus on ARV-based products is the result of some earlier failures with non-ARV microbicide products, and the lack of a robust set of other options to develop. ARVs are very potent and very specific inhibitors of HIV infection, and recent studies have shown that vaginal gels containing an ARV (tenofovir) as well as oral use of ARV pills (Truvada) can prevent transmission of HIV in specific populations. It is likely that these positive results will fuel the development of additional ARV-based microbicide products in the foreseeable future.
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