Dissolvable fabric loaded with medicine may offer women faster protection against HIV, reports UW News and Information on research out of UW Bioengineering Assistant Professor Dr. Kim Woodrow’s lab.

Dr. Woodrow, doctoral student Cameron Ball and other bioengineers in Dr. Woodrow’s lab have discovered a faster way to deliver a topical drug that can protect women from contracting HIV. The researchers created a fiber material embedded with the drug through a process called electrospinning that quickly dissolves and releases a potent antiretroviral drug, maraviroc, when it comes into contact with moisture.

The researchers discovered in 2012 that electrospun fabric has the ability to release drugs, potentially offering a way to protect women against HIV and pregnancy. Their new findings build upon their previous work and show that the material can hold a significantly higher level of medicine than other anti-HIV platforms currently in development.

The researchers suggest that their material works more quickly, is more potent and easier to use than other anti-HIV microbicides currently in development. Gels, films and tablets either work too slowly or deliver too low a drug dose to be optimally effective.

The researchers’ work was published in the August issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy; it was also released in an online advanced issue, featured in an earlier post on the UW Bioengineering website.