Several years ago researchers in Australia found that lemon juice may be effective at preventing HIV transmission, which was later found that this discovery may not be that effective after all, as the lemon juice had the ability to cause damage to the skin due to its acidity. Another interesting discovery has been made in Australia at the University of Melbourne involving cows milk that can defend human cells against HIV.

While the researchers recently made this discovery, the next stage involves testing the effectiveness and safety of the milk before making it into a cream or gel that will hopefully protect against HIV transmission. The article I read referred to women being able to protect themselves using this cream, so it will be interesting to find out whether men can apply the cream to their anus and receive the same level of protection as women applying the cream to their vagina if its effectiveness is proven.

This discovery was reported at the same time that the statistics were revealed showing the number of HIV diagnosis in Australia has grown over the past decade, with an 8% spike in new cases detected in Australia last year. The lead researcher in the cows milk project said that they vaccinated pregnant cows (which apparently cannot contract HIV) with an HIV protein and studied the first milk produced by the cow after birth. Dr Kramski from the University of Melbourne confirmed that the first milk, called colostrum, produced milk high in antibodies to protect its newborn against the disease.

The researchers were able to inhibit the virus from infecting cells when combing the virus cells with milk. They also think that the antibodies bind to the surface of the virus and block the protein that needs to be freed to get in contact with human cells – like a key and lock system, where if the key is not accessible or the key is changed, you cannot open the door. The researchers confirmed that this is also a very cheap and easy way to produce a lot of antibodies.

According to the report, the University of Melbourne have partnered with an Australian biotechnology company to develop the milk and will continue working with them to produce a preventative cream. The only downside to this is that a cream or gel could be a decade off, so this is a long term project. The antibodies already exist, so the next step is formulation and the researchers are indicating that this will be a cheap and easy prevention tool, which could make this a good solution for those who may not be able to afford the drugs that are designed to help prevent HIV that are very expensive.

The article also noted that clinical trials for other HIV prevention creams, including Carraguard containing an anti-HIV microbicide found the product to be safe but not effective in reducing the spread of HIV. This is certainly an exciting discovery and I want to read more about this as further information becomes available. I will share any developments here as soon as I know more.

References:

  1. Melbourne researchers make major breakthrough in HIV prevention – news.com.au
    http://www.news.com.au/national/melbourne-researchers-make-major-breakthrough-in-hiv-prevention/story-fndo4cq1-1226497647852
  2. Lemon Juice and Sexual Health Study – Brad Bare
    http://www.bradbare.com/health/lemon-juice-and-sexual-health-study/
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