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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

Condoms have been around for quite awhile. They used to be made from linen or even animal intestine (gross). Then technology came along and made more effective versions from polyurethane and latex. But biomedical engineers David Katz and Patrick Kiser have developed an even better version of the condom. It’s called the “smart, molecular condomâ€? and is a polymer that is sensitive to heat and sperm. It also is supposed to prevent HIV. The condom is a liquid at room temperature that then solidifies into a gel. The gel can stay in place for up to 24hrs when warmed by the body. When the gel comes in contact with semen there’s a change in pH which causes the gel to re-liquefy and release an HIV-killing microbicide.

The only problem I have with it is the HIV-killing microbicide part. Trials for an HIV-microbicide have come to a stand still this week when researchers testing cellulose sulphate found that women who used the gel ran a higher risk of HIV infection than women who used a placebo. The cellulose sulphate known also as Ushercell was in its final trial period. That means, if no one had spotted a problem, this stuff would be out on the market. The closure of this trial is a big set back. Currently there are three other microbicides in Phase III trial that use a different molecule, but block HIV entry. These trial results won’t be ready until 2008 or 2009.

The benefit of the “smart condomâ€? is that it will be easier to put on then regular condoms. No more futzing around with getting the wrapper open and then making sure it goes on right. Men will be more inclined to use something that they just smear on like a lotion.