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Rapid-Release Griffithsin Fibers For Dual Prevention Of HSV-2 And HIV-1 Infections

Kevin M. Tyo, Amanda B. Lasnik, Longyun Zhang, Alfred B. Jenson, Joshua L. Fuqua, Kenneth E. Palmer, Jill M. Steinbach-Rankins

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ABSTRACT The biologic griffithsin (GRFT) has recently emerged as a candidate to safely prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). However, to date, there are few delivery platforms that are available to effectively deliver biologics to the female reproductive tract (FRT). The goal of this work was to evaluate rapid-release polyethylene oxide (PEO), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) fibers that incorporate GRFT in in vitro (HIV-1 and HSV-2) and in vivo (HSV-2) infection models. GRFT loading was determined via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the bioactivity of GRFT fibers was assessed using in vitro HIV-1 pseudovirus and HSV-2 plaque assays. Afterwards, the efficacy of GRFT fibers was assessed in a murine model of lethal HSV-2 infection. Finally, murine reproductive tracts and vaginal lavage samples were evaluated for histology and cytokine expression, 24 and 72 h after fiber administration, to determine safety. All rapid-release formulations achieved high levels of GRFT incorporation and were completely efficacious against in vitro HIV-1 and HSV-2 infections. Importantly, all rapid-release GRFT fibers provided potent protection in a murine model of HSV-2 infection. Moreover, histology and cytokine levels, evaluated from collected murine reproductive tissues and vaginal lavage samples treated with blank fibers, showed no increased cytokine production or histological aberrations, demonstrating the preliminary safety of rapid-release GRFT fibers in vaginal tissue.