An HIV blocker discovered?

Was the cure for the virus that causes AIDS really under our noses all this time?

The University of Minnesota researchers found that the cheap ingredient, used in ice cream, cosmetics and breast milk appears to protect female monkeys against the primate form of HIV.

According to MPR’s Lorna Benson, “U researchers say that GML temporarily shuts down the cells that tell the body’s immune system to ramp up. That’s good when dealing with HIV because the virus uses the immune system to spread itself throughout the body.”

According to the latest report from the Minnesota Department of Health, over 8,000 people in Minnesota have been diagnosed with HIV infection. Nearly 3,000 have died.

It’s important to point out that the researchers are not saying that glycerol monolaurate (GML) prevents the transmission of HIV in humans, but the possibility that it does has got the science world buzzing this afternoon.

The findings are published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature. The magazine’s podcast has more on the findings:

Hopes for an anti-HIV vaccine have been rising — and falling — for a few decades now.

One of the big problems with HIV is it mutates quickly. In Houston, doctors have found a section of HIV’s structure that doesn’t change. They’re racing to see if they can develop a vaccine for HIV, although when their work was publicized last August, it was thought a vaccine is still at least five years away.

Last month, it was revealed that doctors in Germany gave a bone marrow transplant to an American who had taken “antiretroviral” drugs, and hasn’t had to take them since. But the treatment costs tens of thousands of dollars.