Green Tea ingredient hinders HIV infection

Posted May 20, 2009 by Subhabrata Das
Scientists claimed that a chemical naturally found in green tea might be helpful in preventing sexual transmission of the virus which causes AIDS. The study recommends that the compound should be used in vaginal creams to supplement antiretrovirals.
A team of researchers from Germany’s University of Heidelberg has said that a polyphenol found in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is capable of neutralizing a protein in human sperm which acts as a vector for HIV transmission during sexual intercourse.
In the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists said that they "recently identified a peptide fraction in human semen that consistently enhanced HIV-1 infection," which they have termed as semen-derived enhancer of virus infection, or SEVI.
According to the researchers, SEVI captures the viral element and attaches it to the surface of the target cell thereby enhancing the fusion of the target cell reducing cell’s ability to resist viral threats.
While explaining the role of EGCG, researchers said it “targets SEVI for degradation” and "abrogates semen-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 infection in the absence of cellular toxicity."
In near future EGCG could be extremely useful in preventing semen-based HIV transmission threats as scientists said: "EGCG appears to be a promising supplement to antiretroviral microbicides to reduce sexual transmission of HIV-1."
Notably, effects of EGCG on HIV-1 have already been published by a group of scientists from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in February of this year. According to a report published in Houston Business Journal, the scientists have been waiting for further research which could move the study to the human trials.
Scientists from University of Heidelberg are quite hopeful that EGCG could effectively thwart the spread of HIV in poor developing countries where 96 per cent of new infections occur through heterosexual sex. They believe that the use of this low-cost compound in topical creams would "provide a simple and affordable prevention method" to guard against HIV transmission.