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Toxin in bee venom found effective against HIV


ST. LOUIS - Nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy HIV while leaving surrounding cells unharmed, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown, according to a Science Daily report. The finding is an important step toward developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, researchers said.

“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,” says Dr. Joshua Hood, a research instructor in medicine.

The study appears in the current issue of “Antiviral Therapy.”

Bee venom contains a potent toxin called melittin that can poke holes in the protective envelope that surrounds HIV, and other viruses. Large amounts of free melittin can cause a lot of damage. Indeed, in addition to anti-viral therapy, the paper’s senior author, Dr. Samuel Wickline, a professor of biomedical sciences, has shown melittin-loaded nanoparticles to be effective in killing tumor cells, Science Daily reported.

The report did not address whether or not the gel could be effective for gay men.


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Information in this article was accurate in March 20, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.