The Promise of ARV-Based Microbicides

After decades of research, there is great reason to believe that safe and effective microbicides are within reach.

Researchers are now focused on microbicides containing the same types of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs being used successfully to treat people living with HIV/AIDS and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Recent research shows that ARVs can prevent HIV when they are used consistently.

Next Steps for Microbicides

A range of microbicides containing different ARVs are now in preclinical development and clinical trials. One microbicide has shown efficacy in late-stage clinical trials: the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring, developed by IPM.

The ring slowly releases the ARV dapivirine over the course of one month. In 2016, two parallel Phase III trials, The Ring Study, led by IPM, and the ASPIRE study, led by our clinical trial partner the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), found that the ring helped reduce women's risk of HIV and was well-tolerated. Two open-label extension studies, DREAM and HOPE, provided the ring to former Ring Study and ASPIRE participants, respectively, and aimed to help understand how women use the ring now that the Phase III results are known. Learn more about the results and the next steps for the ring.

Other products in IPM's portfolio include a three-month dapivirine ring and a three-month multipurpose vaginal ring that would prevent HIV and unintended pregnancy in one product and that entered a second Phase I trial in 2018.

As is the case with HIV treatment, microbicides based on combinations of ARVs that target different points in the HIV life cycle may offer greater protection than a single drug alone. 

IPM’s Work 

From its inception, IPM’s product portfolio has focused exclusively on ARV-based microbicides and prevention products for women. These products are following the lead of other life-saving prevention methods that have been created by adapting successful treatments for diseases such as malaria, influenza and pneumonia.

Through five non-exclusive and one exclusive royalty-free licenses--and one exclusive worldwide rights agreement--for nine different ARVs from industry partners, IPM is developing a range of woman-centered microbicides for HIV prevention.