March 20, 2013 | by Staff reports
Health: Toxin in bee venom found effective against HIV
bee, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez via Wikimedia Commons)

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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