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Australian plant may produce anti-HIV microbicide gel

A genetically-altered Australian cousin of tobacco plant could become the source of a potent chemical that promises to contain spread of HIV.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
March 31, 2009 12:24:17 pm

A genetically-altered Australian cousin of tobacco plant could become the source of a potent chemical that promises to contain spread of HIV through sexual intercourse,a new finding announced on Tuesday suggests.

The scientists have shown that transgenic versions of a plant Nicotiana benthamiana,also known as ‘Tjuntiwari’ in the native language,may be able to produce large quantities of a protein griffithsin which can be used as an anti-HIV microbicide gel.

The protein has shown capabilities of neutralizing HIV as it binds to the virus molecule in such a way that the virus could not disguise itself from the immune system of humans.

Anti-HIV microbicide gel directly targets entry of the virus and averts infection at the surfaces but at present they are being produced using biologicals like bacteria E coli,an expensive process which is not cost-effective.

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Scientists across the world were looking for a natural source of the protein,for producing anti-HIV microbicide gel,which can prevent women from getting sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers from USA and UK altered the genetic nature of the plant using a tobacco mosaic virus which produced the protein griffithsin.

They infected more than 9,300 plants in the process and managed to extract substantial amount of the protein from the leaves of the transgenic plant.

“The technique can allow researchers to grow sufficient quantities of griffithsin in Nicotiana benthamiana,a close relative of tobacco,to test the HIV entry inhibitors in clinical trials” Kenneth E Palmerb,lead researcher wrote in the paper published in the US based journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.’

If proven effective in clinical trials,the protein could provide a new means of HIV prevention,the authors say.

📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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