Team of Aggie researchers find HIV-killing compound
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:54am
COLLEGE STATION -- Doctors may have found ways to protect against most sexually transmitted diseases but every year more than 50-thousand people are diagnosed with HIV.
And with no real cure for the virus, those numbers will continue to grow.
But thanks to a team of researchers at Texas A&M, there's hope for the future.
Tucked away in a lab at the Texas A&M's Chemical Engineering Department is a team of researchers who hope to change the world one day.
"I think it will be really life changing for someone to actually be able to not get HIV because once it's inside of you, it's really hard to actually control," said PhD student Ana Chamoun.
The research team, led by Dr. Zhilei Chen, stumbled upon this discovery by accident. The team was actually studying Hepatitis C when they realized the compound, PD 404 182, worked better on HIV.
"It turned out that if we incubate the anti-virus with the compound, even if you incubate it for a very short period of time - like a few minutes, the virus seems to lose its genetic material and that's how we came up with maybe the compound somehow dissolves the virus," said Dr. Chen.
Dr. Chen and her team hope that one day you can walk into your local grocery store and grab the product off the shelf, making it easier to prevent the spread of HIV.
While the compound isn't a cure for HIV, Dr. Chen hopes to create a gel ointment that people can use before intercourse to act as a protective barrier against the virus.
And pharmacist, James Killingsworth, says an over the counter drug could do wonders.
"Anti-HIV drugs have done a great job but something that could prevent HIV from being spread would really be a huge step forward for humanity."
And an even bigger step toward prevention.