The findings showed that 4′-Ethynyl-2-fluoro-2’deoxyadenosine or EFdA, can prevent vaginal and oral transmission of HIV.
Each year, nearly 1.5 million women living with HIV become pregnant globally.
Without effective treatment, up to 45 per cent of such mothers transmit the virus to their child, usually through breastfeeding, the researchers said.
“The study discovered that EFdA can prevent vaginal transmission of HIV, which would prevent new infections in women,” said lead author Martina Kovarova, Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina, in the US.
In addition, EFdA can also prevent oral transmission of HIV which would prevent infants who are born to mothers already living with HIV from acquiring the virus during breastfeeding.
In the study, the team tested the efficacy of EFdA in vivo using validated pre-clinical humanised mouse models of vaginal and oral HIV transmission.
In both studies, a daily dose of EFdA was able to prevent HIV infection in mice that were exposed multiple times to high doses of HIV.
“The availability of an anti-HIV drug that is potent enough to be used as a preventative agent in both women and infants has the potential to make a significant impact on the global HIV epidemic,” added Angela Wahl, Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine.
The results were published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.