A molecule widely used in vaginal spermicides could increase genital transmission of the human papilomavirus (HPV), according to a study published in the July 2007 issue of Nature Medicine.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus and causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer. However, studying its genital transmission has been difficult owing to the lack of a suitable animal model. In the present study, John Schiller and colleagues developed a mouse model of vaginal infection with HPV that mirrors the early phase of human infection. Using this model, they found that nonoxynol-9, a molecule widely used in vaginal spermicides, greatly increased susceptibility to HPV infection. By contrast, carrageenan -- a molecule present in some vaginal lubricants -- prevented infection even in the presence of nonoxynol-9, suggesting that carrageenan might serve as an effective topical HPV microbicide.
John Schiller (National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA)
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
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