A new study has claimed that bee sting venom can kill HIV, the disease that often leads to AIDS. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have recently demonstrated that a toxin called melittin, a peptide which is found in a bee's venom can serve as a prophylactic against HIV when applied prior to sexual activity which, in turn, can potentially destroy HIV by poking holes in the envelope surrounding the virus.
Melittin, Bee's Venom: The Solution For HIV?
According to reports by Snopes, researchers from the Washington University has revealed that melittin which is found to be damaging to viruses is not the breakthrough aspect of this research. Experts say that melittin is a cytolytic, which essentially means it can destroy cells by increasing their permeability. The problem is that melittin has this effect not just on viruses, but also on important human cells. Experts have also revealed that the breakthrough in this study was the researchers' ability to attach melittin to complex nanoparticles that allowed the compound to selectively target HIV without coming into contact with non-viral cells.
Furthermore, the Huffington Post reports that these nanoparticles which are found to be smaller than HIV were infused with the bee venom toxin. Researcher explain that a "protective bumper" was added to the nanoparticle's surface, allowing it to bounce off normal cells and leave them intact. Normal cells are larger than HIV, so the nanoparticles target HIV, which is so small it fits between the bumpers.
Research instructor Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD said that the melittin on the nanoparticles fuses with the viral envelope. The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus. Thus, Hood concludes that the revelation could potentially lead to the development of a vaginal gel to prevent the spread of HIV and, it seems, an intravenous treatment to help those already infected.