U of M HIV breakthrough: Food additive might block transmission
|Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota|
Scientists were able to prevent infection in female monkeys when they were treated with a gel containing glycerol monolaurate (GML) before they were exposed to the primate version of HIV, known as SIV. The details were reported today in the journal Nature.
GML is a naturally occurring compound recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. It is often found in foods (such as ice cream) and many cosmetics as an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent.
"After 25 years, an effective vaccine for HIV is still on the distant horizon, so not only vaccines, but all research into ways to prevent the continued spread of this lethal virus, remain critically important," Haase said in a U of M report. "If GML as a topical microbicide can add to our prevention, it could contribute to saving millions of lives."
The agent works by halting the body's defense system. It sounds counter intuitive, but HIV spreads by using immune cells (T-cells) to expand infection.
To learn more about how GML works, watch this informative video created by the U of M to explain the transmission and blockage of HIV: