Posted on Mar 26, 2010, 6 a.m.
University of Michigan (US) team discovers that BanLec, a compound in bananas, binds to key HIV-1 protein to inhibit disease transmission
Lectins are sugar-binding proteins found in plants, which have the capacity to identify foreign invaders, such as a virus, and attach themselves to the pathogen. Michael D. Swanson, from University of Michigan Medical Center (Michigan, USA), and colleagues studied BanLec, the lectin found in bananas, and found that the compound can inhibit HIV infection by binding to the sugar-rich HIV-1 envelope protein, gp120, and blocking its entry to the body. Observing that BanLec was as potent as two anti-HIV drugs currently in clinical use, the researchers write that: “BanLec is a potential component for an anti-viral microbicide that could be used to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV-1.”
Michael D. Swanson, Harry C. Winter, Irwin J. Goldstein, David M. Markovitz. “A Lectin Isolated from Bananas Is a Potent Inhibitor of HIV Replication.” J. Biol. Chem. 2010 285: 8646-8655. January 15, 2010; doi:10.1074/jbc.M109.034926.