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A potent new HIV inhibitor derived from bananas may open the door to new treatments to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, according to a University of Michigan Medical School study published this week.

Scientists have an emerging interest in lectins, naturally occurring chemicals in plants, because of their ability to halt the chain of reaction that leads to a variety of infections.

In laboratory tests, BanLec, the lectin found in bananas, was as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs. Based on the findings published March 19 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, BanLec may become a less expensive new component of applied vaginal microbicides, researchers say.

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