Soybean compound can be effective in treating HIV, shows study.
It's in the early stages, but genistein, derived from soybeans and other plants, shows promise in inhibiting the HIV infection, Yuntao Wu, a professor with the George Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Molecular and Microbiology, said.
Still, that doesn't mean people should begin eating large amounts of soy products.
"Although genistein is rich in several plants such as soybeans, it is still uncertain whether the amount of genistein we consume from eating soy is sufficient to inhibit HIV," Wu said.
Genistein is a "tyrosine kinase inhibitor" that works by blocking the communication from a cell's surface sensors to its interior.
Found on a cell's surface, these sensors tell the cell about its environment and also communicate with other cells.
HIV uses some of these surface sensors to trick the cell to send signals inside.
These signals change cell structure so that the virus can get inside and spread infection.
But genistein blocks the signal and stops HIV from finding a way inside the cell. It takes a different approach than the standard antiretroviral drug used to inhibit HIV.