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.