Why bananas could stop the spread of Aids

An ingredient found in bananas could protect against the Aids virus and save millions of lives

It’s the world’s most popular fruit, but there’s another reason why we should be thankful for the humble banana as research suggests it may help protect against the Aids virus.

Following extensive tests, scientists found that the ingredient called BanLec – a lectin found in plants – could act as a powerful inhibitor of HIV and lead to new treatments that could save millions of lives.

According to the study, BanLec is as effective as two current anti-HIV drugs – T-20 and maraviroc – and works by blocking the HIV virus’s entry into the body.

Senior author Michael Swanson, from the University of Michigan, says: ‘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.’

Scientists believe the BanLec ingredient could be used on its own or with other anti-HIV treatments. With the infection spreading faster than the distributions of drugs, it’s an area that needs urgent attention.

David Markovitz, M.D., professor of internal medicine at Michigan Medical School, says: ‘The explosion of Aids in poorer countries continues to be a bad problem because of tremendous human suffering and the cost of treating it.’

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