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Testing samples in the lab at Fred Hutch. Photo credit: Katherine Turner
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By Lauran Neergaard

Creating new HIV prevention tools for women has proven frustratingly slow and researchers have found another hurdle: bacteria in the reproductive tract.

A new study published Thursday examined what stalled an early attempt at an anti-HIV gel, and found certain types of vaginal bacteria broke down the protective medication before it had time to work.

The finding is the latest to link our health to the microbes that share our bodies, what’s called the microbiome. And while it highlights another difficulty in developing vaginal “microbicides” to block HIV infection, it also offers the prospect of one day identifying women who are particularly vulnerable.

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Nichole Klatt, Assistant Professor of Pathobiology and Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics, led the study and was quoted in this article.