Bee Venom Kills HIV, experiments find

Discovery could lead to topical gel to prevent HIV transmission

By JASON KOEBLER | USNEWS | MARCH 13, 2013

Bees could hold the key to preventing HIV transmission. Researchers have discovered that bee venom kills the virus while leaving body cells unharmed, which could lead to an anti-HIV vaginal gel and other treatments.

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that melittin, a toxin found in bee venom, physically destroys the HIV virus, a breakthrough that could potentially lead to drugs that are immune to HIV resistance. The study was published Thursday in the journal Antiviral Therapy.

“Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this as a preventative measure to stop the initial infection,” Joshua Hood, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers attached melittin to nanoparticles that are physically smaller than HIV, which is smaller than body cells. The toxin rips holes in the virus’ outer layer, destroying it, but the particles aren’t large enough to damage body cells.

“Based on this finding, we propose that melittin-loaded nanoparticles are well-suited for use as topical vaginal HIV virucidal agents,” they write.

Theoretically, the particles could also be injected into an HIV-positive person to eliminate the virus in the bloodstream.

Because the toxin attacks the virus’ outer layer, the virus is likely unable to develop a resistance to the substance, which could make it more effective than other HIV drugs.

“Theoretically, melittin nanoparticles are not susceptible to HIV mutational resistance seen with standard HIV therapies,” they write. “By disintegrating the [virus’] lipid envelope [it’s] less likely to develop resistance to the melittin nanoparticles.”

The group plans to soon test the gel in clinical trials.

U.S. Government Chemically Attacked St. Louis during Cold War

Attacks focused on poor neighborhoods populated by minorities.

By JIM SALTER | AP | OCTOBER 4, 2012

Government said it was an experiment to ”protect” people a Russian attack.

Doris Spates was a baby when her father died inexplicably in 1955. She has watched four siblings die of cancer, and she survived cervical cancer.

After learning that the Army conducted secret chemical testing in her impoverished St. Louis neighborhood at the height of the Cold War, she wonders if her own government is to blame.

In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.

Local officials were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Russians attacked.

But in 1994, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and St. Louis was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Russian cities that the U.S. might attack. The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder.

Now, new research is raising greater concern about the implications of those tests. St. Louis Community College-Meramec sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor’s research has raised the possibility that the Army performed radiation testing by mixing radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide, though she concedes there is no direct proof.

But her report, released late last month, was troubling enough that both U.S. senators from Missouri wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh demanding answers.

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