Natural geranium extracts inactivate HIV-1

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Geranium extracts could complement existing anti-HIV therapies

Certain geranium extracts inactivate the HI virus type 1 and thereby inhibit its reproduction. This is what researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) report in the renowned journal "PLOS ONE". The root extract of the medicinal plant Pelargonium sidoides may therefore be an alternative to already established drugs for AIDS. Geranium extract in particular could benefit people in regions where conventional anti-HIV-1 drugs are scarce. Its manufacture is simple and the durability is high, the researchers write.

Geranium extracts prevent HIV from entering host cells. Markus Helfer and Prof. Dr. Ruth Brack-Werner from the Institute of Virology on and Prof. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin from the Department of Analytical Biogeochemistry on analyzed the antiviral effect of geranium extracts in cell cultures. The researchers discovered that the plant substances protect the blood and immune cells from HIV-1 infection by blocking the attachment of the viruses to the host cells. This prevents the HI viruses from entering. The antiviral effect of the geranium extracts is due to so-called polyphenols. As researchers report, isolated polyphenol mixtures are highly effective against type 1 HI virus. They are also gentler on the cells than the coarse extract.

"Our results on the anti-HIV-1 activity of Pelargonium sidoides provide the first indications that geranium extracts can be used to develop a new, scientifically founded plant medicine against HIV-1," explains Brack-Werner, head of the working group. "Since pelargonium sidoides extracts attack the virus in a way that differs from all previously clinically used drugs against HIV-1, such a phytomedicine would be a valuable addition to the already established anti-HIV therapies." Above all In regions "with limited access to conventional anti-HIV-1 drugs", patients could benefit from the plant substances, "because they are easy to manufacture and very durable," says Brack-Werner. Further studies are necessary to confirm the effectiveness of geranium extracts against HIV in the human body.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 35 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. Type 1 HI virus is considered the main pathogen. The disease is often diagnosed very late because it can run for years without any clear symptoms. (ag)

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