Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say they've developed mucous-penetrating nanoparticles that can get anti-herpes drugs into the vaginal walls and help prevent infection.
The scientists' method, described in Science Translational Medicine, is designed to get around the body's natural mucous defenses, which, while helpful in keeping out infection, also create a barrier to effective drug delivery. To get around the issue, the researchers created nanoparticles that mimic mucous-penetrating viruses, coating them in polyethylene glycol so that they can slip through mucous membranes and enter the skin to deposit herpes-fighting drugs, News Medical reports. The particles are contained in a gel, designed to be applied vaginally.
The researchers tested their discovery on mice, discovering that the nanoparticle formulation tripled the anti-herpes treatment's effectiveness, MyHealthNewsDaily reports. And to be sure, the scientists deliberately chose a weak herpes drug and exposed it to a particulary infectious strain of the virus, finding that the treatment's effectiveness in preventing infection went from 16% with a normal administration to 53% with the nanoparticles.
Next, of course, will be human trials, which head researcher Justin Hanes said could start within a year.