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Yoghurt can stop spread of AIDS

'Friendly bacteria' found in yoghurt has been genetically modified by researchers in the US to produce a drug that blocks HIV infection.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2006 14:15 IST

'Friendly bacteria' found in yoghurt has been genetically modified by researchers in the US to produce a drug that blocks HIV infection.

Although the bacteria has only been tested in a lab dish, scientists are optimistic the technique could provide a cheaper and more effective way of delivering drugs to fight the spread of AIDS, by getting the bugs to live right where the drugs are needed most, Nature magazine reported.

The bacterium (Lactococcus lactis) the researchers have modified naturally produces lactic acid, and so is used to produce cheese and yoghurt. It is also found in some parts of the human anatomy, including the gut and the vagina, where the acid it produces damps down the growth of other, harmful bacteria, Nature said.

Some 'probiotic' yoghurts are loaded with such beasties with the aim of keeping consumers' guts healthy.

Bharat Ramratnam, an HIV specialist at Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island, and his colleagues, Nature says, have now altered the genetic make-up of L Lactis so that it generates cyanovirin, a drug that has prevented HIV infection in monkeys and human cells, and is on track for human trials in 2007.