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Researchers Use Chemical From Medicinal Plants To Fight HIV

Posted Nov 15 2008 4:23pm

Like other kinds of cells, immune cells lose the ability to divide as they age because a part of their chromosomes known as a telomere becomes progressively shorter with cell division. As a result, the cell changes in many ways, and its disease fighting ability is compromised.

But a new UCLA AIDS Institute study has found that a chemical from the Astragalus root, frequently used used in Chinese herbal therapy, can prevent or slow this progressive telomere shortening, which could make it a key weapon in the fight against HIV.

“This has the potential to be either added to or possibly even replace the HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), which is not tolerated well by some patients and is also costly,” said study co-author Rita Effros, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the UCLA AIDS Institute.

The study, to be published in the Nov. 15 print edition of the Journal of Immunology.

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