TUESDAY, May 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Some kinds of bacteria that occur naturally in the human mouth can block the HIV virus and disarm immune cells infected by the virus, says a University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry study.
In laboratory tests, the researchers identified a number of strains of Lactobaccillus oral bacteria that can latch onto the sugar coating on the envelope that encases the HIV virus particle, thus blocking its ability to infect immune cells.
These oral bacteria can also bind to the sugar coating on immune cells. This causes the immune cells to clump, an action that could prevent immune cells infected with HIV from spreading the virus to other immune cells.
"This discovery opens up a possible means of preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to infant through breast feeding," researcher Lin Tao, an associate professor of oral biology, said in a prepared statement.
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV causes 800,000 new HIV infections around the world each year.
The study was presented May 25 at the American Society for Microbiology's general meeting in New Orleans.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about HIV/AIDS prevention.