A group of Spanish scientists has developed a molecule using hydroxytyrosol, an antioxidant found in high concentrations in the olive leaf, which has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and which could be used to produce a drug with microbicidal activity and topical application, which it would prevent the transmission of HIV sexually.

Hydroxityrosol is also present, although in smaller quantities, in extra virgin olive oil, and the product made from this substance has already been tested in models in vitro, where it has reached a 100% efficiency rate.

The new compound inhibits the integration of HIV in the genes of the infected person, and by preventing it from taking root in the body, the virus is not able to survive

The researchers used a chemical and enzymatic synthesis method to take full advantage of the microbicidal and anti-inflammatory properties of hydroxityrosol. According to experts, this double potential is what distinguishes this molecule from other microbicides, and explain that the new compound acts by inhibiting the integration of the virus in the genes of the infected person; In this way, by preventing HIV from taking root in the body, the virus is not able to survive.

The anti-inflammatory properties of hydroxityrosol help to reduce the risk of infection, which is a great advantage, since it has been proven that when the vaginal area is inflamed the risk of infection increases, and some first-generation microbicides irritated and inflamed the mucosa. vaginal, so that some came to favor HIV infection instead of avoiding it.

Thanks to the success achieved with this new compound in 'in vitro' models, the European Commission has funded a project that will soon start the Carlos III Institute, which will prove its use as a microbicidal gel in primates and, in case of obtaining positive results during the next two years, the first clinical trials with humans would begin.

The objective of the project is that the product can be marketed in a term not exceeding five years, and at an affordable price, once its effectiveness in humans is demonstrated. This would be a great step forward in the fight against the spread of AIDS, especially in countries in Africa and Asia, where more than 20% of the adult population is affected by this disease, and where the use of prophylactic measures such as condoms does not It is sufficiently widespread for socio-cultural reasons.

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