Melbourne: Cows’ milk can be potentially developed into affordable creams that can help protect humans against HIV, a study has claimed.
Lead scientist from University of Melbourne Marit Kramski found that when pregnant cows were vaccinated with an HIV protein, the first milk produced by the cow after giving birth, called colostrum, produced high antibodies to protect its newborn against disease.
Researchers were now planning to test the effectiveness and safety of the milk before turning it into a cream which will hopefully allow women to protect themselves against contracting the virus during sex, without relying on men, the Herald Sun reported.
However, the final result could be a decade off.
The researchers were able to inhibit the virus from infecting cells when combing the virus cells with milk.
“We think the antibodies bind to the surface of the virus and blocks the protein which needs to be freed to get in contact with human cells — like a key and lock system. If the key’s not accessible or you change the key, you can’t open the door,” Kramski said adding “It’s a very cheap and easy way to produce a lot of antibodies.”
Kramski had partnered with Australian biotechnology company Immuron Ltd to develop the milk, and would continue working with them to produce a preventative cream.
“We have the antibodies at the moment — the next step will be formulation,” Kramski said.
Condoms were “cheap and easy” but not an option for everyone with millions of people getting infected with HIV every year, she added.
“A lot of women, especially in Africa or South America, don’t have the power to say you need to use a condom before we have sex.
“This milk looks like it can be a cheap, easy new prevention tool, because if you use drugs it’s really expensive,” she said.