Indian-American’s ‘Super Condom’ can help combat AIDS

Indian-American Mahua Choudhery and her team of researchers at Texas A&M University have come up with the hydrogel based super condom which could help in the global fight against HIV. The condom is made of an elastic polymer called hydrogel, and includes plant-based antioxidants that have anti-HIV properties. Supercondom could help fight against HIV infection and may as well prevent unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

Choudhury, who studied Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Genetics in India before getting her PhD in the US, has been researching diabetes and the obesity epidemic. She was one of 54 people awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Grand Challenge in Global Health” grant.

The condom material already exists as a water-based hydrogel for medical purposes such as contact lenses. In addition to protecting against STDs and pregnancy, researchers enmeshed in the hydrogel design the antioxidant quercetin, which can prevent the replication of HIV and if the condom breaks, the quercetin would be released for additional protection.

Researchers hope the condom will enjoy greater use and have a stronger effect at preventing the spread of HIV as the new design is more comfortable and also heightens sexual pleasure. The condom has already been created and now the only thing keeping it from going to market is an approval on its patent application. The researchers hope to test the condom within the next six months.

Once released, the new condom will eventually be made available to everyone, including those in rural areas. Since its outbreak in 1981, HIV virus has killed 39 million people.

World AIDS Day is observed on December 1.

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