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.