Plant May Produce Anti-HIV Gel

Nicoatiana benthamiana plant.
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A genetically-altered Australian cousin of tobacco plant could become the source of a potent chemical that promises to contain spread of  HIV through sexual intercourse, a new finding announced today suggests.

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The scientists have shown that transgenic versions of a plant Nicotiana benthamiana, also known as ‘Tjuntiwari’ in the native language, may be able to produce large quantities of a protein griffithsin which can be used as an anti-HIV microbicide gel.

The protein has shown capabilities of neutralizing HIV as it binds to the virus molecule in such a way that the virus could not disguise itself from the immune system of humans.

Anti-HIV microbicide gel directly targets entry of the virus and averts infection at the surfaces but at present they are being produced using biologicals like bacteria E.coli, an expensive process which is not cost-effective.

Scientists across the world were looking for a natural source of the protein, for producing anti-HIV microbicide gel, which can prevent women from getting sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers from USA and UK altered the genetic nature of the plant using a tobacco mosaic virus which produced the protein griffithsin.

Sources: The Times Of India

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