Saturday, November 2, 2013

Breast Milk Protein May Be Key to Protecting Babies from HIV

Breast Milk Protein May Be Key to Protecting Babies from HIV
A substance in breast milk that neutralizes HIV and may protect babies from acquiring HIV from their infected mothers has been identified for the first time by researchers at Duke Medicine.

The protein, called Tenascin-C or TNC, had previously been recognized as playing a role in wound healing, but had not been known to have antimicrobial properties. The discovery could lead to potential new HIV-prevention strategies.

Reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of Oct. 21, 2013, the researchers describe how the TNC protein in breast milk binds to and neutralizes the HIV virus, potentially protecting exposed infants who might otherwise become infected from repeated exposures to the virus.

"The discovery of the HIV inhibiting effect of this common protein in breast milk provides a potential explanation for why nursing infants born to HIV-infected mothers do not become infected more often than they do," said Barton F. Haynes, M.D., director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. "It also provides support for inducing inhibitory factors in breast milk that might be even more protective, such as antibodies, that would completely protect babies from HIV infection in this setting."

Read more:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153200.htm

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