Dendrimers are synthesised in a series of generations and are similar in size to naturally occurring proteins.
Dendrimers are larger than typical drug molecules such as aspirin, shown here.
SPL7013, the active dendrimer in Starpharma's topical microbicide, VivaGel®, binds to surface proteins on HIV, preventing the virus from infecting human T-cells.
Typical small molecule drugs interact with single biological targets or receptors.
Size comparison of various biological structures and a 5 nm dendrimer. A hair is ~50,000 nm in diameter and is shown behind representations of a red blood cell, a bacterium and the HIV virus.
A dendrimer is capable of polyvalent interactions with biological targets, such as receptors on a cell membrane.
How does VivaGel® work? View an animation about Starpharma's microbicide that is being developed for prevention of HIV infection and genital herpes.