Safe sex? It won’t be long till you’ll forget about condoms.
This might not be the usual news we feature here, but hey, it’s still a new technological development right? And tech news or not, its one piece of news many people can relate to. 😉
Studying the use of microbicides on intravaginal gels, rings, and films to prevent transmission of viruses has kept researches busy over the years. However, only a few were successful (or safe) enough to be tested on humans. And those few encountered different issues such as increasing the risk of transmission instead of preventing it, women not using it, or the antiviral drugs in the microbicides doesn’t last long enough.
A new development from the researches at the University of Utah however, may pave the way for this new type of contraceptive method. This molecular condom starts out as a gel then becomes semi-solid when introduced to semen. It then forms some kind of double mesh to prevent sperms and viruses such as HIV particles from coming through.
The new gel is applied as a gel, and then becomes more solid and impenetrable as changes in pH alter the strength of the bond between the gel’s two key components, both of which are polymers, or long, chain-like molecules made of many smaller, repeating units: PBA, or phenylboronic acid, and SHA, or salicylhydroxamic acid.
But what if, in an unlikely case, that the virus did get past the two barriers?
Patrick Kiser, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah’s College of Engineering and the study’s senior author says the antiviral drug within the remaining gel would be able to inactivate the HIV particles. The acidity of the vagina after sex also helps in inactivating the particles.
The team’s research is funded by the National Institute of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 😉