January 2020 News

Plant-based drug could stem the spread of HTLV-1 virus

Thanks to SMU scientists, there’s hope on the horizon for the estimated 10–15 million people infected with the HTLV-1 virus, a “cousin” to HIV. While there is no cure or treatment, the new research suggests that the drug oleandrin could prevent the HTLV-1 virus from spreading.

A new study by SMU researchers shows that the drug oleandrin, which is derived from the Nerium oleander plant, could stem the spread of HTLV-1 virus. A cousin of HIV, the virus infects 10-15 million people worldwide. It causes cells to divide uncontrollably and can lead to leukemia, neurological disease and even death. There is currently no treatment or cure for the virus.
“Our research findings suggest that oleandrin could possibly limit the transmission and spread of HTLV-1 by targeting a unique stage in the retroviral life cycle,” said Robert Harrod, associate professor and director of graduate studies in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Harrod is a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals.
Read more at SMU Research.

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