A gel to block HIV and herpes infections, that is a new strategy to beat the emerging epidemic of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
Yes, an experimental lubricant developed by Australian researchers will now be coated on condoms under an agreement signed between Melbourne-based Starpharma and the owner of condom company Durex.
The vaginal microbicide, called VivaGel, has been found to prevent HIV and genital herpes in animal and human studies presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney in July.
It is designed to work by preventing viruses from entering cells, avoiding infection.
The active ingredient in the microbicide is dendrimer, a molecule which binds itself to the viruses and prevents them from infecting healthy cells.
In early stage research, the gel also has been found to be a potent contraceptive.
VivaGel has undergone testing in Australia, the US and Kenya, and is still in clinical trials.
The gel-coated condoms are expected to hit the market worldwide in about a year, long before the gel itself is due to be approved for sale.
Starpharma chief executive Dr Jackie Fairley said microbicides were considered one of the most attractive new prevention options for STIs.
It is a much-needed option for third world nations like sub-Saharan Africa where HIV and genital herpes rates are the highest in the world, he said.
"We feel the health sector has focused on finding a cure or treatment to disease, whereas we believe very strongly that prevention is a preferable option in curbing the disturbing increase in STIs in both the developed and developing worlds," Dr Fairley said.