Banana beats anti-HIV drugs

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Indy Lifestyle Online

On March 19, a new study to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientific journal, concluded that banana lectins, a naturally occurring chemical, has the ability to stop the transmission and prevention of HIV.

This novel research from the University of Michigan Medical School found BanLec, "a jacalin-related lectin isolated from the fruit of bananas, a potential component for an anti-viral microbicide that could be used to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV-1. BanLec is an effective anti-HIV lectin and is similar in potency to T-20 and maraviroc, two anti-HIV drugs currently in clinical use."

Michael D. Swanson, a doctoral student in the graduate program in immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School and lead author of the study, said "the problem with some HIV drugs is that the virus can mutate and become resistant, but that's much harder to do in the presence of lectins. Lectins can bind to the sugars found on different spots of the HIV-1 envelope, and presumably it will take multiple mutations for the virus to get around them."

According to University of Michigan Health System, the "authors say even modest success could save millions of lives. Other investigators have estimated that 20 percent coverage with a microbicide that is only 60 percent effective against HIV may prevent up to 2.5 million HIV infections in three years."

David Marvovitz, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, led the study and explained, "HIV is still rampant in the U.S. and the explosion in poorer countries continues to be a bad problem because of tremendous human suffering and the cost of treating it. That's particularly true in developing countries where women have little control over sexual encounters so development of a long-lasting, self-applied microbicide is very attractive."

Full study, "A Lectin Isolated from Bananas Is a Potent Inhibitor of HIV Replication": http://www.jbc.org/content/285/12/8646.abstract?sid=7b9e04dd-d1a9-4a57-ac6e-47a766bb705a

 

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