Coral protein inhibits HIV

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12 Jun 2014

A new class of protein found in coral off Australia’s northern coast is capable of inhibiting the transfer of HIV into the body’s T-cells.

In a chance discovery, a coral phylum called cnidaria has been found to block HIV at concentrations of a billionth of a gram, making it potentially ideal for use in microbicide gels or sexual lubricants.

Senior investigator at the US National Cancer Institute's Centre for Cancer Research, Barry O’Keefe, described the find as thrilling. “The fact that this protein appears to block HIV infection — and to do it in a completely new way — makes this truly exciting," he said.