Ingredient might prevent sexually transmitted disease | Science News

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Ingredient might prevent sexually transmitted disease

12:27pm, July 18, 2006

A seaweed derivative that's commonly added to baby food, lubricants, and other consumer products as a thickening agent can inhibit the virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts.

About 20 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Although people can reduce their chances of acquiring HPV by using condoms (SN: 6/24/06, p. 387: Available to subscribers at Proof of Protection: Condoms limit infection by cervical cancer virus) or receiving a new vaccine (SN: 10/15/05, p. 243: Available to subscribers at Vaccine Clears Major Hurdle: Injections offer new tool against cervical cancers), scientists have long sought a chemical that could be a topical HPV microbicide.

While studying chemicals that affect HPV's penetration of cells, Christopher Buck and his colleagues at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., realized that the seaweed derivative carrageenan has a molecular structure that

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