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Bee venom could be key to killing HIV, say scientists

Bee venom could be key to killing HIV, say scientists

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Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis believe they've uncovered a vital step in developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, which causes AIDS.

Nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), while leaving surrounding cells unharmed.

Their hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use the gel as a preventive measure to stop the initial infection.

Nanoparticles carrying melittin, the toxin in bee venom, fuse with HIV and destroy its protective cover. Meanwhile, molecular bumpers prevent the nanoparticles from harming the body's normal cells. Melittin pokes holes in the protective envelope that surrounds HIV, and other viruses, and can cause a lot of damage in large amounts.

The Wash. U. scientists also see potential for using it to treat existing HIV infections, especially those that are drug-resistant; other viruses, including hepatitis B and C; and tumors; and even sperm (as a spermicide).  

The study appears in the current issue of Antiviral Therapy.

To read more about it, please click here.

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