London, March 19: The humble Banana may hold the key to powerful new treatments that can protect against the deadly Aids virus, a new study has claimed.
BanLec, a naturally occurring chemical in Banana, is as effective against AIDS virus as two anti-HIV drugs now in use, T-20 and maraviroc,reported.
In laboratory tests, American researchers observed that the lectin inhibits HIV infection by blocking the virus’s entry into the body.
The chemical acts on the protein ‘envelope’ that encloses HIV’s genetic material, according to a report that appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Michael Swanson, lead author from the University of Michigan, said: “The problem with some HIV drugs is that the virus can mutate and become resistant, but that’s much harder to do in the presence of lectins.
“Lectins can bind to the sugars found on different spots of the HIV-1 envelope, and presumably it will take multiple mutations for the virus to get around them,” Swanson said.
The researchers believe that therapies based on BanLec could be used alone or in conjunction with other anti-HIV drugs and they have the potential to save millions of lives.
According to a 2009 WHO report, around 33 million people across the world are infected with HIV/AIDS.