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article imageDissolvable female condoms to protect against pregnancy & HIV

By Sheetal Patel     Dec 11, 2012 in Science
Scientists have developed a female condom which they claim can protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV by dissolving inside the body and releasing specific chemicals.
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a female condom from tiny microfibres through a method called `electrospinning`.
Not only would this block sperm, it could also time-release a potent mix of anti-HIV drugs and hormonal contraceptives, as reported in Daily Mail. They claim that the `discreet protection` can safeguard people from HIV and unwanted pregnancy by `melting` inside the body and releasing the chemicals.
The cloth-like fibres can be woven from medicine into extremely thin `webs` that also blocks STI's and prevent unwanted pregnancies. They are designed to dissolve after use, either within minutes or over several days.
The team was given $1 m to develop the technology, which uses an electric field to charge fluid through air to create the very fine, nanometre-sized fibres.
Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering said, "Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy. We have the drugs to do that. It`s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it.".
"This method allows controlled release of multiple compounds. We were able to tune the fibres to have different release properties," co-author Cameron Ball said.
One of the fabrics dissolves within minutes, offering users immediate protection, while another fabric dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an alternative to the birth-control pill, to provide contraception and protect against Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
More about HIV, Female condom, Contraceptive
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