Vaginal gel loaded with bee venom may destroy HIV

Db Duo Photography/CC BY-SA 2.0

Here's yet another reason that it's dumb to stab bees in the back.

It turns out bee venom may help fight HIV.

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have developed nanoparticles loaded with bee venom. The idea is that these nanoparticles would be delivered using a vaginal gel, destroying the HIV virus before it has a chance to cause infection.

Of course the idea of applying bee venom to your nether regions might be a hard sell, but scientists say that the tiny size of the HIV virus means it can be singled out for attack, avoiding damage to healthy cells:

The new study shows that melittin loaded onto these nanoparticles does not harm normal cells. That’s because Hood added protective bumpers to the nanoparticle surface. When the nanoparticles come into contact with normal cells, which are much larger in size, the particles simply bounce off. HIV, on the other hand, is even smaller than the nanoparticle, so HIV fits between the bumpers and makes contact with the surface of the nanoparticle, where the bee toxin awaits.

Researchers hope that these developments will eventually also be applicable to fighting existing infections, not just preventing new ones, and may circumvent some of the problems with drug resistance that are inherent to existing strategies.

With recent news that an HIV-infected infant was completely cured for the first time, and scientists developing ultra-cheap tests for HIV and malaria, this is one more hopeful sign that we may be turning a corner on this deeply destructive disease.

Tags: Bees | Health | Health Care | Insects | Nanotechnology

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