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Chemical Found In Bananas Shows Potential As HIV Inhibitor

March 19, 2010: 09:38 AM EST
With new HIV infections spreading at a rate that outstrips the rate of new patients getting anti-retroviral drugs by 2.5 to 1, scientists around the globe are urgently searching for new methods of deterring the spread of the disease. Although discovery of an effective vaccine is thought to be years away, a ray of hope has appeared in the form of a chemical derived from bananas. BanLec, a variety of the compound lectin commonly found in plants, acts as a powerful HIV inhibitor because it stops chain reactions that lead to infections. Lab tests of BanLec found that the chemical was as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs. And that, researchers said, opens the door to the possibility that it may someday become a cheap ingredient of applied vaginal microbicides.
Michael D. Swanson, Harry C. Winter, Irwin J. Goldstein and David M. Markovitz, "A Lectin Isolated from Bananas Is a Potent Inhibitor of HIV Replication", The Journal of Biological Chemistry, March 19, 2010, © American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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