Scientists have identified good bacteria already living in some humans that target and trap HIV and may protect against infection. They report their findings today at the 2005 American Society for Microbiology Beneficial Microbes Conference.
"I believe every life form has its natural enemy, and HIV should not be the exception," says Dr. Lin Tao, Associate Professor of the Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago. "If we can find its natural enemy, we can control the spread of HIV naturally and cost-effectively, just as we use cats to control mice."
The bacteria are strains of lactobacillus, commonly found colonizing the oral and vaginal cavities of humans. They do not cause disease. They target HIV because the virus is coated with the sugar mannose, which they use as a food source. "Different bacteria have different sugar preferences," says Tao. "To block HIV, however, we needed to find bacteria that prefer the unusual sugar mannose and thus can capture it."
Carrie Patterson | EurekAlert!
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