January 31, 2000
Volume 52, No. 19
Research looks for topical compound to fight STDs
By Eric Rangus
The medical school, the college, Yerkes and Georgia State University have joined forces on a project that focuses on the development of compounds to inactivate bacteria or viruses that cause sexually transmitted diseases.
The principal investigator is Richard Compans, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology. Emory microbiologist Igor Stojiljkovic is the co-principal investigator.
Although several microbicides have been tested in preclinical and clinical trials by other groups, none has been found to clearly prevent STDs. Because STD infections are transmitted at body surfaces, a topically applied preparation is considered the first line of defense in prevention. The research is examining new compounds not previously used as topical microbicides. A major challenge of the study is developing a nontoxic compound with little or no odor, taste or color.
The development of new chemicals with microbicidal activity is being carried out by Luigi Marzilli, professor of chemistry, and Dabney Dixon, a chemistry professor at Georgia State. Marzilli and Dixon have already developed compounds that possess potent and broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, with specific activity against herpes simplex viruses and HIV.
Stojiljkovic and microbiology and immunology Professor William Shafer
are investigating the spectrum of activity of the compounds against clinical
isolates of bacteria that commonly cause STDs. Microbiology and immunology
Professor Amy Sears is investigating the use of compounds in preventing
infection by herpes simplex viruses, and Compans' group will determine the
virucidal activity of compounds against HIV. Kenneth Gould, research professor
at Yerkes, is testing the efficacy and safety of the new compounds in primates.