The topical microbicide gel, which will be based on a patented bioadhesive polymeric platform, is a combination therapy against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections in women.

As part of the grant, SRI’s researchers will test a prototype bioadhesive formulation for sustained delivery of the antiviral drugs tenofovir and acyclovir to the vaginal surface.

The company said the awarded grant is for two years with a possible extension of three additional years.

SRI Biosciences Formulations R&D director Gita Shankar said the easy-to-use combination therapy in development could help contain the spread of HIV and HSV, and possibly other sexually transmitted diseases.

"One of the strongest benefits of a topical gel formula is that it can offer protection when options such as condoms are unavailable or unacceptable," Shankar added.