Plant-based compound may inhibit HIV

July 29, 2013, George Mason University

A compound found in soybeans may become an effective HIV treatment without the drug resistance issues faced by current therapies, according to new research by George Mason University researchers.

It's in the early stages, but , derived from soybeans and other plants, shows promise in inhibiting the HIV infection, says Yuntao Wu, a professor with the George Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Molecular and Microbiology.

Still, that doesn't mean people should begin eating large amounts of soy products. "Although genistein is rich in several plants such as soybeans, it is still uncertain whether the amount of genistein we consume from eating soy is sufficient to inhibit HIV," Wu says.

Genistein is a "" that works by blocking the communication from a cell's surface sensors to its interior. Found on a cell's surface, these sensors tell the cell about its environment and also communicate with other cells. HIV uses some of these surface sensors to trick the cell to send signals inside. These signals change so that the virus can get inside and spread infection.

But genistein blocks the signal and stops HIV from finding a way inside the cell. It takes a different approach than the standard used to inhibit HIV.

"Instead of directly acting on the virus, genistein interferes with the that are necessary for the virus to infect cells," Wu says. "Thus, it makes the virus more difficult to become resistant to the drug. Our study is currently it its early stage. If clinically proven effective, genistein may be used as a complement treatment for HIV infection."

Wu sees possibilities in this plant-based approach, which may address drug toxicity issues as well. Because genistein is plant-derived, it may be able to sidestep drug toxicity, a common byproduct of the daily and lifelong pharmaceutical regimen faced by patients with HIV to keep the disease at bay, Wu says. Typically, patients take a combination of multiple drugs to inhibit the virus. The frequency can lead to drug toxicity. Plus, HIV mutates and becomes drug-resistant.

Wu and his team are working at finding out how much genistein is needed to inhibit HIV. It's possible that plants may not have high enough levels, so drugs would need to be developed, Wu says.

Wu's research is feeling the financial squeeze these days due to sequestration and budget cuts within the National Institutes of Health, he says. His lab has turned to novel ways to fund the HIV research, including the genistein project. A bicycle ride dubbed NYC DC AIDS Research Ride raised money for Wu's lab a few years ago and has stepped up its efforts with a new fundraiser.

Explore further: Research breakthrough opens door to new strategy for battling HIV

Related Stories

Research breakthrough opens door to new strategy for battling HIV

September 26, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—New research showing how the HIV virus targets "veterans" or memory T-cells could change how drugs are used to stop the virus, according to new research by George Mason University.

Platelets block HIV

July 23, 2013
Scientists of the DPZ have shown that platelet activation inhibits the host cell entry of HIV

Discovery may help prevent HIV 'reservoirs' from forming

April 17, 2013
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered how the protein that blocks HIV-1 from multiplying in white blood cells is regulated. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS, and the discovery ...

Lifesaving HIV treatment could reach millions more people following landmark study

July 3, 2013
Millions more people could get access to life-saving HIV drug therapy, following a landmark study led by Australian researchers based at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Cancer drug shows promise in eradicating latent HIV infection

November 29, 2012
Breakthrough drugs have made it possible for people to live with HIV longer than ever before, but more work must be done to actually cure the disease. One of the challenges researchers face involves fully eradicating the ...

Recommended for you

Long-acting injectable implant shows promise for HIV treatment and prevention

October 9, 2018
A persistent challenge in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention is medication adherence – getting patients to take their medication as required to get the best results.

Scientists develop rapid test for diagnosing tuberculosis in people with HIV

October 8, 2018
An international team that includes Rutgers scientists has made significant progress in developing a urine diagnostic test that can quickly, easily and inexpensively identify tuberculosis infection in people also infected ...

Researchers uncover new role of TIP60 protein in controlling tumour formation

October 8, 2018
Scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a new molecular pathway that controls colorectal cancer development, and their exciting ...

Combination therapy targets latent reservoir of HIV

October 3, 2018
With more than 35 million people worldwide living with the virus and nearly 2 million new cases each year, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a major global epidemic. Existing antiretroviral drugs do not cure ...

Anti-integrin therapy effect on intestinal immune system in HIV-infected patients

October 3, 2018
In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, Mount Sinai researchers describe for the first time a mechanism that may shrink collections of immune cells in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, called lymphoid ...

No 'reservoir': Detectable HIV-1 in treated human liver cells found to be inert

October 1, 2018
In a proof-of-principle study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report that a certain liver immune cell called a macrophage contains only defective or inert HIV-1 copies, and aren't likely to restart infection on their own in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.