A recent study published in the current issue of Antiviral Therapy reports that nanoparticles loaded with a toxin, melittin, found in bee venom, can destroy HIV while leaving nearby normal cells unharmed. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have shown that this toxin can can poke holes through the outer protective shell of HIV and other viruses like hepatitis B, C, and has also been shown to be effective against tumor cells.

Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, a research instructor in medicine 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.” Scientists say it could be used to develop a vaginal/anal gel that prevents the spread of HIV during intercourse. The Melittin therapy could also be applied to treat existing HIV infections, especially ones that have become drug-resistant. The nanoparticles could be injected intravenously and, in theory, would be able to clear HIV from the blood stream according to the study.

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