Could Coral Provide the Next HIV Prevention Tool?
Scientists involved in the Molecular Targets Laboratory at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) say they have discovered a new class of proteins which prevent HIV from binding to CD4 cells. The proteins were discovered in a soft coral referred to only as a "feathery coral," reports Medical News Today.
Dr. Barry O'Keefe, who directs the program, told Medical News Today the discovery is exciting.
"It's always thrilling when you find a brand-new protein that nobody else has ever seen before," O'Keefe says. "And the fact that this protein appears to block HIV infection -- and to do it in a completely new way -- makes this truly exciting."
The discovery was made as part of a review of natural product extracts as part of the NCI's biological repository.
According to the report, the protein binds to the virus and prohibits its ability to fuse with a CD4, the white blood cell the virus infects in order to replicate. The scientists say the virus is unlikely to develop a resistance to the proteins, meaning they would are ideal candidates for inclusion in rectal and vaginal microbicides. Better yet, because the proteins have a completely unique impact on HIV, even if resistance is developed, people infected with HIV would still have all seven classes of current theraputics to access for treatment.