Beyond prevention in the form of a vaginal gel, Hood also sees potential for using nanoparticles with melittin [the toxin in bee venom] as therapy for existing HIV infections, especially those that are drug-resistant. The nanoparticles could be injected intravenously and, in theory, would be able to clear HIV from the blood stream.
This is a very important breakthrough, with potentially huge consequences for AIDS-ravaged areas like Africa. Both the number of people contracting HIV and the number dying from AIDS have fallen steeply in recent years, but the virus still claims over a million lives annually. An effective preventive gel could do a lot to cut this number down even more. It could bring an unprecedented degree of health to Africa and other third world regions.We are often amazed at the scientific and technological ingenuity all around us, but a discovery like this makes it easy to appreciate just how important our laboratories are. And we’re thankful that the abundance we’re lucky enough to enjoy in the West is still being leveraged for the good of the whole world.[Bee Image courtesy of Shutterstock]