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Bee Venom May Provide Protection Against HIV

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A toxin contained in bee venom may have the ability to prevent HIV infection when packaged properly.

Researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis, tested a specific delivery system of the toxin, called melittin, in lab dishes and found that "super-tiny blobs" of the bee venom component can attach to and destroy the HIV virus, according to Science News.

The nanoparticles of melittin selectively attached to the HIV virus and poked holes in its protein coat. The result, according to the study, was sharply diminished amounts of the virus.

The researchers also tested the toxin on cells from vaginal walls, due to the frequency of HIV entering the body through the vagina. The treatment being studied did not have any negative impact on the human cells because of protective structures attached to their outsides. According to Science News, the structures prevent the nanoparticles from attaching to healthy human cells.

The study, published in Antiviral Therapy, has a long way to go before a functional drug can be developed, but is exciting nonetheless. According to Science News, the nanoparticles must still be proven able to be produced in a uniform manner and would require adhesive properties to prevent the toxin from entering the bloodstream.

Nonetheless, Antony Gomes from the University of Calcutta in India told Science News, "There are very few reports available on venom-based treatment against viruses. This type of research has the potential to proceed further for product development.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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