“Scientists have found that a key ingredient in bee venom destroys HIV without harming other cells.”
Bees could hold the key to preventing HIV transmission. Researchers have discovered that bee venom kills the virus while leaving body cells unharmed, which could lead to an anti-HIV vaginal gel and other treatments.
Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that melittin, a toxin found in bee venom, physically destroys the HIV virus, a breakthrough that could potentially lead to drugs that are immune to HIV resistance.
“Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this as a preventative measure to stop the initial infection,” Joshua Hood, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.
“Based on this finding, we propose that melittin-loaded nanoparticles are well-suited for use as topical vaginal HIV virucidal agents,” they write.
Theoretically, the particles could also be injected into an HIV-positive person to eliminate the virus in the bloodstream.
Because the toxin attacks the virus’ outer layer, the virus is likely unable to develop a resistance to the substance, which could make it more effective than other HIV drugs.
“Theoretically, melittin nanoparticles are not susceptible to HIV mutational resistance seen with standard HIV therapies,” they write. “By disintegrating the [virus’] lipid envelope [it’s] less likely to develop resistance to the melittin nanoparticles.”