Genital herpes is a lifelong infection affecting more than 500 million people worldwide. In the US alone, each year approximately one million people are newly diagnosed with herpes and $1 billion is spent on treatment. Individuals infected with herpes experience painful viral outbreaks along with significant psychological stress, social stigma, and anxiety. Current therapies suppress viral load to decrease the length and severity of symptoms, but they are not curative. Even though women are more prone to genital herpes, available prevention options are controlled by the male partner, and proper use may not be negotiable. A new female-controlled vaginal film called HerShield empowers women to protect themselves against genital herpes.

Technology Description

HerShield, is a biodegradable film applied intra-vaginally; containing an antiviral drug – tenofovir that has demonstrated activity against herpes (HSV-2) infection when used vaginally. HerShield does not require an applicator. It is both portable and discreet so as not to interfere with sex. HerShield is also environmentally-friendly and inexpensive. Two phase I clinical trials have demonstrated that the first generation prototype of HerShield is safe and delivers sufficient quantities of drug for protection from herpes infection.

Advantages

  • Female-controlled
  • Portable
  • Discreet
  • No interference with sex
  • Biodegradable
  • Low cost

Applications

  • Prevention of herpes and other STDs
  • Contraception
  • Platform for vaginal drug delivery – can provide both immediate and extended release of drugs
  • Delivery of probiotics and other agents for improved vaginal health
  • Convenient delivery of drugs for a range of therapeutic areas

IP Status

Two provisional patent applications have been filed.

Stage of Development

A prototype tested in phase I clinical trials.

Notable Mentions

  • Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for development of vaginal film manufacturing advancements, which have been incorporated into the HerShield product to reduce cost and optimize ease of use.