`New Molecule from Olive Antioxidant Could Reduce HIV Transmission - Olive Oil Times

New Molecule from Olive Antioxidant Could Reduce HIV Transmission

Jul. 23, 2012
Naomi Tupper

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Research car­ried out at the Carlos III Institute in Spain has led to the devel­op­ment of a novel mol­e­cule from hydrox­y­ty­rosol, a potent antiox­i­dant found in olives. It is hoped that the antivi­ral and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties of the new mol­e­cule will act as a micro­bi­cide to reduce the trans­mis­sion of HIV.

Hydroxytyrosol is found in high con­cen­tra­tions in the olive leaf and in smaller amounts in extra vir­gin olive oil, and acts in com­bi­na­tion with other phe­no­lic com­pounds in olives to give the char­ac­ter­is­tic bit­ter taste of olives and olive oil. The new mol­e­cule, devel­oped and patented by Spanish com­pany Seprox, is the result of chem­i­cal and enzy­matic mod­i­fi­ca­tion of hydrox­y­ty­rosol to increase its potency and enhance its antivi­ral and anti-inflam­ma­tory properties.

The new micro­bi­cide dif­fers from other prod­ucts cur­rently avail­able in that, rather than stop­ping the virus from enter­ing the body, the com­pound pre­vents the inte­gra­tion of the virus genes into those of the infected per­son, thereby stop­ping the virus from repli­cat­ing and spread­ing. A virus needs to inte­grate into host genes in order to sur­vive, so pre­vent­ing this inte­gra­tion process leads to the death of the virus.

The new com­pound also con­fers other advan­tages over cur­rent micro­bi­cides due to increased anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties. There is some evi­dence that risk of infec­tion with the HIV virus is increased in cases where vagi­nal inflam­ma­tion is present. It is hoped that by reduc­ing this inflam­ma­tion, the new mol­e­cule will fur­ther min­i­mize virus transmission.

The European Commission-funded project has already shown a 100 per­cent suc­cess rate in in vitro test­ing, and pri­mate test­ing is due to begin in com­ing months. If those tests indi­cate an increased pro­tec­tion of at least 50 per­cent, human tri­als will fol­low — how­ever project man­agers hope to achieve a fig­ure closer to an 80 per­cent increase in pro­tec­tion. If this level is demon­strated, the gel prod­uct will be on the mar­ket within five years. Due to low costs of syn­the­sis­ing the mol­e­cule, the price of the prod­uct would rival that of condoms.

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This is not the first time that olive oil has been indi­cated as poten­tially use­ful in the fight against HIV. Researchers from the University of Granada showed that maslinic acid, a nat­ural prod­uct extracted from olive pomace oil in mills, could result in a slow­ing in the spread of the HIV virus through­out the body by up to 80 percent.

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