Whole Lotta Trouble

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Location: Wheatland, California, United States

I'm a mom. I'm a civil servant. I have a sense of humor, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Monday, October 31, 2005

This is promising . . .

However, upon reading this, I was unpleasantly reminded of the movie, Medicine Man.

Frog sweat may kill HIV

Vanderbilt University research could lead to vaginal cream to help prevent AIDS

One day, the key ingredient of a vaginal cream used to prevent the spread of HIV could be "frog sweat."

Vanderbilt University researchers found that secretions from the skin of some Australian frogs were effective in the test tube at killing HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. They hope their findings will lead to the creation of a topical ointment containing synthetic secretions that will help cut the spread of the deadly worldwide pandemic.

"Anything we discover that has the potential to stop HIV is exciting," said Dr. Derya Unutmaz, a Vanderbilt associate professor of microbiology and immunology. "This is a virus that we have been unable to stop. Worldwide, there are 4 million new infections each year, and that number is growing."

HIV attacks the immune system. Specifically, it invades "T'' cells, which help the body fight off germs and diseases.

In the study, researchers took healthy T cells and exposed them to HIV. Then they added the frog secretions, or peptides, to see whether they would prevent the cells from being infected. They did — 99% of the time.

"The peptides were able to inactivate the virus within minutes," Unutmaz said. "They were very potent."

The idea for the study sprang from a hallway chat between Unutmaz and Dr. Louise Rollins-Smith, a Vanderbilt associate professor of microbiology and immunology. The two have labs next to each other.

Rollins-Smith, a zoologist, studies secretions emitted by frogs when they are alarmed or their skin is injured that protect them from disease. It was already known that the peptides could kill bacteria, but Rollins-Smith told Unutmaz that she was curious to investigate whether they would act as an antiviral agent as well. Viruses are more complex than most bacteria, and treatments for viral illnesses, such as colds and the flu, are harder to develop.

"I said, 'You know, why don't we try it on HIV?' " Unutmaz said.

The pair tested the secretions of 12 different frogs. The best results came from three species from Australia.

"They have special glands that are like antibiotic pumps," Rollins-Smith said.

The next step for the Vanderbilt researchers is to test to see if the secretions will protect monkeys from becoming infected. If that test and later ones are promising, it would still be several years before an ointment could be created and made available to the public.

Experts say an ointment is a needed alternative to condoms, which some people refuse to use because they diminish pleasure. Despite the widespread availability of condoms in the United States, there are still nearly 40,000 new HIV infections each year. More than 1,000 people have HIV or AIDS in Davidson County, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
Rollins-Smith said the discovery that frog secretions may potentially save lives reinforces the importance of protecting animals and their environments. She noted that the Australian frog species used in the study are being threatened by disease and disappearing habitat.

"We need to protect these frog species," she said, "because they may hold secrets that could be valuable to humans."

The findings of the team, which, in addition to the Vanderbilt researchers, included scientists from several countries, were published in the September edition of the Journal of Virology.

Starting Over

Hey everyone.

Well, I decided to start again from scratch. In a fit of impulsive craziness, I felt I needed to change a few things. I guess I get that way from time to time.

So, I scrapped everything, and am starting again from zero. I will get my list of links back on later today.