Breast Milk Protein May Be Key to Protecting Babies from HIV

A substance in breast milk that neutralizes HIV and may protect babies from acquiring HIV from their infected mothers has been identified for the first time by researchers at Duke Medicine.

“…the TNC protein in breast milk binds to and neutralizes the HIV virus, potentially protecting exposed infants who might otherwise become infected from repeated exposures to the virus.”

Whoa! Amazing.

Worldwide in 2011, an estimated 330,000 children acquired HIV from their mothers during pregnancy or birth, or through breastfeeding according to UNICEF. As international health organizations have set a goal of eliminating mother-to-child infections, researchers have worked to develop safe and affordable alternatives to antiretroviral therapy that can be used to block HIV transmission to infants.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Genevieve G. Fouda, Frederick H. Jaeger, Joshua D. Amos, Carrie Ho, Erika L. Kunz, Kara Anasti, Lisa W. Stamper, Brooke E. Liebl, Kimberly H. Barbas, Tomoo Ohashi, Martin Arthur Moseley, Hua-Xin Liao, Harold P. Erickson, S. Munir Alam, and Sallie R. Permar. Tenascin-C is an innate broad-spectrum, HIV-1–neutralizing protein in breast milk. PNAS, October 2013.
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