Combined Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Microbicides (CHAARM)

Partnership objectives

  1. To further develop new and promising microbicides against HIV-1.
  2. To investigate combinations of highly active anti-retroviral agents which may be effective as microbicides

CHAARM is a consortium of 31 partners from academic institutions, research organizations, small and medium enterprises, and larger industries. CHAARM is a consortium of 31 partners from academic institutions, research organizations, small and medium enterprises, and larger industries. Copyright Minerva Communication

What are the health needs and challenges?

Microbicides are compounds that can be applied directly to the vagina or rectum prior to sexual intercourse in order to prevent the transmission of HIV. They can come in the form of a gel, cream, or in a slow release device.

The vast majority of new HIV infections are through sexual contact; therefore, the key to slowing the HIV epidemic is to prevent sexual transmission of HIV. Condoms remain the most effective way of stopping sexually transmitted HIV; however, despite widespread efforts to encourage condom use, many people do not have the power to avoid sexual contact with partners who may be HIV infected. This is particularly the case for women who may not have the ability to control their sexual interactions with men and safeguard their own sexual health. Microbicides have the potential to give more power to individuals to protect themselves against HIV.

To date, no microbicide has been approved for use but there is a considerable research effort worldwide to develop microbicides. 

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges:

Combined Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Microbicides (CHAARM) is a large scale collaborative project co-funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development. CHAARM is a consortium of 31 partners from academic institutions, research organizations, small and medium enterprises, and larger industries, representing 9 different countries in Europe including Ukraine, as well as South Africa and the U.S. The project will run for 5 years beginning in January 2010 and ending in December 2014 and the project coordinator is King’s College, London.

Pharmaceutical partners include Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Gilead. Janssen is providing darunavir, a protease inhibitor, to the consortium for evaluation as a potential microbicide in combination with dapivirine, another Janssen molecule. Janssen has provided additional resources to develop a formulation and to procure GMP material containing both ARVs for a phase I clinical study. By combining two antiretrovirals with different mechanisms of action, the team hopes to overcome possible resistance issues. The choice of the combination has also been validated in a selection algorithm containing in vitro studies and animal studies.  

Given the complexity and the high risk path for developing a new preventative tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is difficult for pharmaceutical companies to fully engage. This collaborative project—which allows academia and pharmaceutical companies to join forces and the public sector to provide some funding—enables pharmaceutical companies to contribute to developing new HIV prevention tools because risks and liabilities are shared.  

Summary of impact and forward looking information:

Both a gel and a ring containing dapivirine and darunavir are available for testing in animals and in humans.

In December 2014, a six month extension was agreed to allow completion of the phase I trial of a combined Dapivirine and Darunavir vaginal gel. This extension has also allowed the testing of 3 further candidate microbicides developed under the project, in the non-human primate model. 


Interview with Dr. Carolina Herrera from Imperial College London - CHAARM Project

CHAARM project video

Partnership information

Company(ies) Johnson & Johnson

Partner(s) Antwerp University, Atomic Energy Commission, Paris, Centre of Cooperative Research in Biomaterials, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, European AIDS Treatment Group, European Commission, European Union, Fondazione Centro San Raffaele Del Monte Tabor, Gilead Sciences, Imperial College London, Insititute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Instituto De Salud Carlos III, International Partnership for Microbicides, Karolinska Institute, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kings College London, Microbiotec, Middlesex Univeristy, Mierva Consulting and Communication, Mintaka Foundation for Medical Research, Particle Sciences, Polymun Scientific Immunbiologische, Queens University, Belfast, Spoluka Chemical Company, St George's, University of London, Universita Degli Studi Di Roma La Sapienza, Université de Genève, University College London, University of Basel, Switzerland, University of Liverpool, University of Siena, University of York, University Utrecht

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, IGOs, Multilaterals, NGOs, Other Business, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Infectious Diseases, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Family Planning, Sexual & Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Research & Development - Development of Treatments

Targeted Population(s) Men, Mothers, Women, Youth

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 48

Country(ies) Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2010

More information CHAARM Website

Completed date 2015