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Indian researcher to develop gel to fight AIDS

Scientists in the US, led by an Indian origin researcher, are developing a gel that could stop the HIV virus from infecting cells.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 02, 2005 10:58 IST

Scientists in the US, led by an Indian origin researcher, are one step closer to developing a gel that they say could stop the HIV virus from infecting cells.

Scientists led by Srinivas Rao, chief of laboratory animal medicine at the Vaccine Research Centre of the US National Institute of Allergy have genetically modified bacteria, which are normally present in the body, to make them produce a protein.

Allowing these bacteria to colonise internal body surfaces where HIV transmission can occur through sexual activities, they found promising results in mice, reports science portal SciDev.Net.

Trials on monkeys exposed to HIV or its primate equivalent (SIV) will have to be successful before the bacteria can be tested on humans, the researchers said.

Rao's team showed that the modified bacteria colonised the intestines and vaginas of mice for weeks and months, without causing any signs of disease.

Furthermore, the modified bacteria produced large quantities of the HIV-blocking proteins.

The reproductive and intestinal tracts are prime sites for HIV infection. Various microbes live in these tracts, playing an important role in defending the body against harmful organisms.

The researchers hope that adding modified bacteria to these existing microbes could help prevent HIV transmission, especially in developing countries.

They point out that if the bacteria successfully colonise and reproduce, protection can be long lasting.

Rao's team used a strain of bacterium that is already used in the US as a live treatment for bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease.