An antibiotic that can be used in a topical cream shows promise as a method to prevent HIV transmission from men to women, according to researchers at the University of Central Florida who just completed a three-year study on the antibacterial drug. The results are published in this month’s issue of PLoS Biology and reported on in the Orlando Sentinel.

According to the Sentinel article, the drug revives a dormant gene and triggers it to produce an HIV-resisting protein.

“There is a good chance the aminoglycosides antibiotics will be used in a topical cream as a way to prevent the transmission of HIV from men to women,” said Alexander Cole, PhD, who led the study. “It could make a huge difference in the fight against HIV.”

According to the article, UCF collaborated with researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that the antibiotics could spur production of retrocyclins, which appeared to prevent HIV transmission. However, Cole acknowledged that additional work—including human trials—must still be done to determine whether an antibiotic topical cream would be effective.

“This is still a promising find,” Cole said. “And we will be moving forward with this—full steam ahead.”