Posted on Mar 09, 2009, 9 a.m.
By gary clark
When applied as a gel, glycerol monolaurate (GML) was shown to impede the signalling processes in the immune systems of monkeys, thereby blocking the primate version of HIV at a key point of possible infection.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota have discovered that when glycerol monolaurate is applied as a gel to moneys, it appears to block SIV - the primate version of HIV - from being transmitted during sexual intercourse. None of the five female rhesus macaque monkeys treated vaginally with GML contracted the virus, even after receiving four large doses of SIV. Of the five monkeys that were not treated with GML, four contracted SIV. The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, suggests that glycerol monolaurate "breaks a vicious cycle of immune-system signalling and inflammatory response in the cervix and vagina."
With an AIDS vaccine potentially decades away, microbicides appear to be the most promising strategy to control the spread of the disease, which is contracted by 16,000 people around the world each day. Microbicides refer to the development of creams and gels to prevent HIV from hijacking T-cells that are dispatched by the body's defense system to fight infection. However, Lead Researcher Ashley Haase says that much work remains ahead before the microbicide can be deemed safe and effective for humans, although he was encouraged by the results of the study. "If GML as a topical microbicide can add to our prevention, it could contribute to saving millions of lives. Even though it sounds counter-intuitive, halting the body's natural defence system might actually prevent the transmission and rapid spread of the infection." And adds Haase's co-authors: "This result represents a highly encouraging new lead in the search for an effective microbicide to prevent transmission that meets the criteria of safety, affordability and efficacy."
British researchers are expected to receive more than £90 from the British government and from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next five years.
News Release: Common chemical found to block HIV in monkeys www.timesonline.co.uk March 4, 2009