A new study has found a chemical that has potential to combat HIV in a very unlikely source- banana. This chemical seems to have a similar potential that the currently used two synthetic anti-HIV drugs.
The chemical is called BanLec, a lectin- the sugar-binding proteins found in a variety of plants. Research has earlier shown that lectins have the ability to halt the chain reaction that leads to certain viral infections and BanLec works by binding naturally to the sugar-rich envelope that encases the HIV virus, thus blocking its entry into the body.
HIV has the tendency to mutate, a property that makes it resistant to most anti HIV drugs. However, the presence of lectins makes its mutation harder as lectins can bind to the sugars found on different spots of the HIV-1 envelope, requiring the virus to undergo multiple mutations to get around them.
Lead author Michael D. Swanson and his colleagues noted that even modest success in developing BanLec into a vaginal or anal microbicide could save millions of lives. Moreover, it would be a much cheaper option to develop BanLec ointments than most current anti-retroviral medications that require the production of synthetic components.
Swanson is developing a process to molecularly alter BanLec to enhance its potential clinical utility.
Written by Snigdha for Biomed-ME