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1.  Increased Dapivirine Tissue Accumulation through Vaginal Film Codelivery of Dapivirine and Tenofovir 
Molecular Pharmaceutics  2014;11(5):1533-1541.
The HIV-1 replication inhibitor dapivirine (DPV) is one of the most promising drug candidates being used in topical microbicide products for prevention of HIV-1 sexual transmission. To be able to block HIV-1 replication, DPV must have access to the viral reverse transcriptase enzyme. The window for DPV to access the enzyme happens during the HIV-1 cellular infection cycle. Thus, in order for DPV to exert its anti-HIV activity, it must be present in the mucosal tissue or cells where HIV-1 infection occurs. A dosage form containing DPV must be able to deliver the drug to the tissue site of action. Polymeric films are solid dosage forms that dissolve and release their payload upon contact with fluids. Films have been used as vaginal delivery systems of topical microbicide drug candidates including DPV. For use in topical microbicide products containing DPV, polymeric films must prove their ability to deliver DPV to the target tissue site of action. Ex vivo exposure studies of human ectocervical tissue to DPV film revealed that DPV was released from the film and did diffuse into the tissue in a concentration dependent manner indicating a process of passive diffusion. Analysis of drug distribution in the tissue revealed that DPV accumulated mostly at the basal layer of the epithelium infiltrating the upper part of the stroma. Furthermore, as a combination microbicide product, codelivery of DPV and TFV from a polymeric film resulted in a significant increase in DPV tissue concentration [14.21 (single entity film) and 31.03 μg/g (combination film)], whereas no impact on TFV tissue concentration was found. In vitro release experiments showed that this observation was due to a more rapid DPV release from the combination film as compared to the single entity film. In conclusion, the findings of this study confirm the ability of polymeric films to deliver DPV and TFV to human ectocervical tissue and show that codelivery of the two agents has a significant impact on DPV tissue accumulation. These findings support the use of polymeric films for topical microbicide products containing DPV and/or TFV.
PMCID: PMC4018102  PMID: 24693866
dapivirine; tenofovir; vaginal film; HIV prevention; microbicides; permeability; drug delivery
2.  Targeted Delivery of PSC-RANTES for HIV-1 Prevention using Biodegradable Nanoparticles 
Pharmaceutical research  2008;26(3):502-511.
Nanoparticles formulated from the biodegradable co-polymer poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), were investigated as a drug delivery system to enhance tissue uptake, permeation, and targeting for PSC-RANTES anti-HIV-1 activity.
Materials and Methods
PSC-RANTES nanoparticles formulated via a double emulsion process and characterized in both in vitro and ex vivo systems to determine PSC-RANTES release rate, nanoparticle tissue permeation, and anti-HIV bioactivity.
Spherical, monodisperse (PDI = 0.098 ± 0.054) PSC-RANTES nanoparticles (d = 256.58 ± 19.57 nm) with an encapsulation efficiency of 82.23 ± 8.35% were manufactured. In vitro release studies demonstrated a controlled release profile of PSC-RANTES (71.48 ± 5.25% release). PSC-RANTES nanoparticle maintained comparable anti-HIV activity with unformulated PSC-RANTES in a HeLa cell-based system with an IC50 of approximately 1pM. In an ex vivo cervical tissue model, PSC-RANTES nanoparticles displayed a fivefold increase in tissue uptake, enhanced tissue permeation, and significant localization at the basal layers of the epithelium over unformulated PSC-RANTES.
These results indicate that PSC-RANTES can readily be encapsulated into a PLGA nanoparticle drug delivery system, retain its anti-HIV-1 activity, and deliver PSC-RANTES to the target tissue. This is crucial for the success of this drug candidate as a topical microbicide product.
PMCID: PMC4243299  PMID: 19002569
drug delivery; HIV-1 prevention; microbicide; nanoparticles; PSC-RANTES
3.  Short Communication: Expression of Transporters and Metabolizing Enzymes in the Female Lower Genital Tract: Implications for Microbicide Research 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(11):1496-1503.
Topical vaginal microbicides have been considered a promising option for preventing the male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV; however, clinical trials to date have not clearly demonstrated robust and reproducible effectiveness results. While multiple approaches may help enhance product effectiveness observed in clinical trials, increasing the drug exposure in lower genital tract tissues is a compelling option, given the difficulty in achieving sufficient drug exposure and positive correlation between tissue exposure and microbicide efficacy. Since many microbicide drug candidates are substrates of transporters and/or metabolizing enzymes, there is emerging interest in improving microbicide exposure and efficacy through local modulation of transporters and enzymes in the female lower genital tract. However, no systematic information on transporter/enzyme expression is available for ectocervical and vaginal tissues of premenopausal women, the genital sites most relevant to microbicide drug delivery. The current study utilized reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to examine the mRNA expression profile of 22 transporters and 19 metabolizing enzymes in premenopausal normal human ectocervix and vagina. Efflux and uptake transporters important for antiretroviral drugs, such as P-gp, BCRP, OCT2, and ENT1, were found to be moderately or highly expressed in the lower genital tract as compared to liver. Among the metabolizing enzymes examined, most CYP isoforms were not detected while a number of UGTs such as UGT1A1 were highly expressed. Moderate to high expression of select transporters and enzymes was also observed in mouse cervix and vagina. The implications of this information on microbicide research is also discussed, including microbicide pharmacokinetics, the utilization of the mouse model in microbicide screening, as well as the in vivo functional studies of cervicovaginal transporters and enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3809391  PMID: 23607746
4.  Reformulated tenofovir gel for use as a dual compartment microbicide 
Coital use of 1% tenofovir gel was shown to be modestly effective at preventing HIV transmission when applied vaginally in the CAPRISA 004 trial. Because the gel is hyperosmolar, which would reduce the integrity of the epithelium and induce fluid movement into the lumen, rectal use may not be acceptable. This study evaluated the pre-clinical safety and efficacy of a reformulated (reduced osmolality) tenofovir gel product.
Reduced glycerine (RG)-tenofovir gel was compared with the original tenofovir gel for physiochemical characteristics, product safety and anti-HIV-1 activity.
The formulations were similar in all characteristics except for osmolality and spreadability/firmness. The RG-tenofovir gel had a 73% lower osmolality, a 29.6% increase in spreadability and a 27% decrease in firmness as compared with the original tenofovir gel. When applied to epithelial cell monolayers, tenofovir gel showed a transient reduction in the transepithelial resistance while the RG-tenofovir gel did not. Both gels retained ectocervical and colorectal explant viability. However, tenofovir gel treatment resulted in epithelial stripping that was absent after RG-tenofovir gel treatment of the polarized explants. Anti-HIV-1 activity was confirmed by lack of HIV-1 infection in polarized explants treated with either gel as compared with the control explants.
Reducing the osmolality of the tenofovir gel resulted in improved epithelial integrity, which suggests better safety upon rectal use. The improved gel safety did not compromise drug release or anti-HIV-1 activity. These data support the use of this gel as a dual compartment microbicide.
PMCID: PMC3417689  PMID: 22581908
HIV prevention; rectal microbicide; formulation; preclinical testing; safety
5.  Characterization of UC781-Tenofovir Combination Gel Products for HIV-1 Infection Prevention in an Ex Vivo Ectocervical Model 
HIV continues to be a problem worldwide. Topical vaginal microbicides represent one option being evaluated to stop the spread of HIV. With drug candidates that have a specific action against HIV now being studied, it is important that, when appropriate and based on the mechanism of action, the drug permeates the tissue so that it can be delivered to specific targets which reside there. Novel formulations of the nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor tenofovir (TFV) and the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor UC781 have been developed and evaluated here. Gels with three distinct rheological properties were prepared. The three gels released both UC781 and TFV under in vitro conditions at concentrations equal to or above the reported 50% effective concentrations (EC50s). The drug concentrations in ectocervical tissues were well in excess of the reported EC50s. The gels maintain ectocervical viability and prevent infection of ectocervical explants after a HIV-1 challenge. This study successfully demonstrates the feasibility of using this novel combination of antiretroviral agents in an aqueous gel as an HIV infection preventative.
PMCID: PMC3370776  PMID: 22430977
6.  Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48328.
Because lubricants may decrease trauma during coitus, it is hypothesized that they could aid in the prevention of HIV acquisition. Therefore, safety and anti-HIV-1 activity of over-the-counter (OTC) aqueous- (n = 10), lipid- (n = 2), and silicone-based (n = 2) products were tested. The rheological properties of the lipid-based lubricants precluded testing with the exception of explant safety testing. Six aqueous-based gels were hyperosmolar, two were nearly iso-osmolar, and two were hypo-osmolar. Evaluation of the panel of products showed Gynol II (a spermicidal gel containing 2% nonoxynol-9), KY Jelly, and Replens were toxic to Lactobacillus. Two nearly iso-osmolar aqueous- and both silicone-based gels were not toxic toward epithelial cell lines or ectocervical or colorectal explant tissues. Hyperosmolar lubricants demonstrated reduction of tissue viability and epithelial fracture/sloughing while the nearly iso-osmolar and silicon-based lubricants showed no significant changes in tissue viability or epithelial modifications. While most of the lubricants had no measurable anti-HIV-1 activity, three lubricants which retained cell viability did demonstrate modest anti-HIV-1 activity in vitro. To determine if this would result in protection of mucosal tissue or conversely determine if the epithelial damage associated with the hyperosmolar lubricants increased HIV-1 infection ex vivo, ectocervical tissue was exposed to selected lubricants and then challenged with HIV-1. None of the lubricants that had a moderate to high therapeutic index protected the mucosal tissue. These results show hyperosmolar lubricant gels were associated with cellular toxicity and epithelial damage while showing no anti-viral activity. The two iso-osmolar lubricants, Good Clean Love and PRÉ, and both silicone-based lubricants, Female Condom 2 lubricant and Wet Platinum, were the safest in our testing algorithm.
PMCID: PMC3492332  PMID: 23144863
7.  Development and Characterization of a Vaginal Film Containing Dapivirine, a Non- nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NNRTI), for prevention of HIV-1 sexual transmission 
Dapivirine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is a potent and promising anti-HIV molecule. It is currently being investigated for use as a vaginal microbicide in two dosage forms, a semi-solid gel and a silicone elastomer ring. Quick-dissolving films are promising and attractive dosage forms that may provide an alternative platform for the vaginal delivery of microbicide drug candidates. Vaginal films may provide advantages such as discreet use, no product leakage during use, lack of requirement for an applicator for insertion, rapid drug release and minimal packaging and reduced wastage. Within this study the in vitro bioactivity of dapivirine as compared to the NNRTI UC781 was further established and a quick dissolve film was developed for vaginal application of dapivirine for prevention of HIV infection. The developed film was characterized with respect to its physical and chemical attributes including water content, mechanical strength, drug release profile, permeability, compatibility with lactobacilli and bioactivity. The anti-HIV activity of the formulated dapivirine film was confirmed in in vitro and ex vivo models. Importantly the physical and chemical properties of the film as well as its bioactivity were maintained for a period of 18 months. In conclusion, a vaginal film containing dapivirine was developed and characterized. The film was shown to prevent HIV-1 infection in vitro and ex vivo and have acceptable characteristics which make this film a promising candidate for testing as vaginal microbicide.
PMCID: PMC3375737  PMID: 22708075
Dapivirine; TMC120; UC781; Microbicides; Thin Films; HIV prevention; Vaginal Drug Delivery
8.  In Vitro and Ex Vivo Testing of Tenofovir Shows It Is Effective As an HIV-1 Microbicide 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9310.
Tenofovir gel has entered into clinical trials for use as a topical microbicide to prevent HIV-1 infection but has no published data regarding pre-clinical testing using in vitro and ex vivo models. To validate our findings with on-going clinical trial results, we evaluated topical tenofovir gel for safety and efficacy. We also modeled systemic application of tenofovir for efficacy.
Methods and Findings
Formulation assessment of tenofovir gel included osmolality, viscosity, in vitro release, and permeability testing. Safety was evaluated by measuring the effect on the viability of vaginal flora, PBMCs, epithelial cells, and ectocervical and colorectal explant tissues. For efficacy testing, PBMCs were cultured with tenofovir or vehicle control gels and HIV-1 representing subtypes A, B, and C. Additionally, polarized ectocervical and colorectal explant cultures were treated apically with either gel. Tenofovir was added basolaterally to simulate systemic application. All tissues were challenged with HIV-1 applied apically. Infection was assessed by measuring p24 by ELISA on collected supernatants and immunohistochemistry for ectocervical explants. Formulation testing showed the tenofovir and vehicle control gels were >10 times isosmolar. Permeability through ectocervical tissue was variable but in all cases the receptor compartment drug concentration reached levels that inhibit HIV-1 infection in vitro. The gels were non-toxic toward vaginal flora, PBMCs, or epithelial cells. A transient reduction in epithelial monolayer integrity and epithelial fracture for ectocervical and colorectal explants was noted and likely due to the hyperosmolar nature of the formulation. Tenofovir gel prevented HIV-1 infection of PBMCs regardless of HIV-1 subtype. Topical and systemic tenofovir were effective at preventing HIV-1 infection of explant cultures.
These studies provide a mechanism for pre-clinical prediction of safety and efficacy of formulated microbicides. Tenofovir was effective against HIV-1 infection in our algorithm. These data support the use of tenofovir for pre-exposure prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC2824823  PMID: 20174579

Results 1-8 (8)