Green Tea may help to stop the spread of HIV, according to new research.
Researchers in Dallas have successfully infected mice with the AIDS-causing HIV virus. It is a major advance in researcher’s ability to test preventative medications, treatments, and vaccines.
The research was done through a joint study by the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Sheffield.
The study showed that a component found in green tea, Epigallocatechin gallate (EDCG), can help stop HIV binding to the human immune system. It attaches itself to the immune system with no room for the virus.
“Our research shows that drinking green tea could reduce the risk of becoming infected by HIV and could also slow down the spread of HIV,” said lead researcher Professor Mike Williamson.
The mice were infected after rectal transmission, which is the most common way for HIV to be spread between men. HIV attacks immune cells and the mice have a humanized immune system to allow the infection.
HIV has been known to only infect people, and researchers who have tried to stop the spread of the virus have relied mostly on monkeys who had a monkey version of HIV.
“If you want to figure out how to stop the spread of the virus, you have to have something like this,” said J. Victor Garcia, a professor of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center who led the new research. “This is the very first model where you can demonstrate transmission of HIV via a normal route.”
The report is online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
HIV is able to enter the body through the bloodstream by needles shared by intravenous drug users, but most HIV transmission is from sexual contact.
In the study, six out of seven inoculated mice showed evidence of infection after the researchers introduced HIV.
Three of four mice tested made human antibodies to the virus, the same as humans. Autopsying the mice showed that they were producing HIV in lymph nodes, spleen, and other immune related tissues. HIV was also being produced in the intestines, lungs, and reproductive tracks of both males and females.
In previous attempts by researchers to infect mice with HIV, the mice did not have as complete a humanized immune system.
Further research is currently being done to find the amounts of green tea needed to shore up the concentration of EGCG in the body.
Green tea has already been considered to be a healthy drink.