Continuing the trend of victories in the war on HIV, a radical new HIV killer comes in a very unexpected package.
A study recently published in Antiviral Therapy details an astonishing find from St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine researchers. Nanoparticles containing melittin (a toxic element of bee venom) effectively seek and destroy HIV without damaging any neighboring cells.
Researchers hope to utilize these nanoparticles in a special vaginal gel that will prevent further transmission of HIV, and in turn, coupled with an emphasis on preventive education and utilization of support groups, AIDS.
“Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventive measure to stop the initial infection,” stated research instructor Dr. Joshua L. Hood.
The venom found within a bee sting has been shown to be more than capable of destroying the protective membranes that protect HIV, among other viruses. And while large amounts of melittin can be extremely harmful, specially designed nanoparticle delivery systems have been created to protect healthy cells.
In addition to preventive care, Dr. Hood hopes to utilize the melittin-loaded nanoparticles as a form a therapy for existing, drug-resistant, HIV cases.
“The basic particle that we are using in these experiments was developed many years ago as an artificial blood product. It didn’t work very well for delivering oxygen, but it circulates safely in the body and gives us a nice platform that we can adapt to fight different kinds of infections,” says Dr. Hood