If you see a bee coming near you, your first instinct is to duck and cover, or flail your arms about in a desperate attempt to scare it off before you get stung. Now a new study shows the venom in their stingers may actually help kill the HIV virus.
Researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri have been doing research with bee venom. In their study, they claim to have found a process where a toxin in the bee venom can kill the HIV virus that is responsible for causing AIDS, and also leaves all of the healthy cells intact. They are hoping to produce a vaginal gel which would help stop the spread of HIV in the most common way.
The process that they are using is called nanoparticle technology. Nanoparticles are microscopic, and in biomedicine they are used to transport protein through the body. Melittin, the main toxin in the bee venom, is a protein. The researchers used nanotechnology to spread this protein. They found that it is able to poke holes in the protective covering of the HIV cells, and other viruses too.
Most of the HIV treatments that are out today only stop the spread of or slow down the infection; they don’t prevent the infection from happening in the first place. The researchers say this is different however because the way that it attacks the virus, it can stop it before it even infects someone without killing their healthy cells as well.
They are hoping to make a vaginal gel to send to African countries where the spread of HIV is high, but also make it for couples who are trying to have a baby, but want to have protection against the virus. It may also be able to stop the spread of Hepatitis B and C as they have similar physical properties as HIV. If this can be manufactured, it could change the face of HIV forever.