HIV is the scourge of the 21st century and a cure for the disease is still not available. Still the use of antiretroviral drugs has been effective in retarding the progression of the disease and bringing more hope to HIV positive patients. The search for a cure for the disease continues and recently a protein derived from sea corral has been identifies as being useful in preventing HIV infections.
Senior investigator Dr. Barry O’Keefe, deputy chief of the Molecular Targets Laboratory at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), stated according to Medical News Today, “It’s always thrilling when you find a brand-new protein that nobody else has ever seen before. And the fact that this protein appears to block HIV infection – and to do it in a completely new way – makes this truly exciting,”
NCI researchers collected samples of the feathery corals found on the northern coast of Australia. The researchers separated proteins known as cnidarins which was purified and tested on HIV strains which were created in the lab. The proteins readily conjoined with the virus and prevented it from entering the T-Cells in the immune system. The proteins was very potent and cidal against the virus. It also did not lead to any resistance with other Anti HIV drugs, gels and lubricants which are used to prevent the spread of AIDS during Sex.
The cnidarin protein had an elite mode of action and the researchers hope to reproduce the protein in significant quantities to test its effectiveness against the HIV virus thoroughly.
The WHO estimates that till 2012, there are 35.3 million HIV positive individuals across the globe. Of these 1.6 million will have died due to the complications associated with the disease. The latest findings bring hope in the face of the epidemic. Recent studies have highlighted a pressing need for anti-HIV microbicides which women can use to protect themselves from getting infected. The cnidarins can be used to block transmission without causing the virus to become resistant to other HIV drugs.