Nanoparticles carrying bee venom can kill HIV

Nanoparticles containing a toxin found in bee venom can destroy HIV without harming healthy cells, scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine have discovered

The findings, published in Antiviral Therapy, will be used to develop a vaginal gel that could prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Bee venom contains a potent toxin called melittin that attacks the structure of HIV and other viruses.

The scientists were able to stop melittin destroying healthy cells by loading it onto nanoparticles fitted with ‘bumpers’. HIV is small enough to slot between the bumpers and make contact with the toxin, while normal cells, which are far bigger, bounce off them.

“Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventative measure to stop the initial infection,” said researcher Joshua Hood.

The method could also be used to target existing drug-resistant HIV infections.