Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lemon juice kills AIDS Virus

While on the topic of lemon juice this is an interesting tid of information I came across a few years ago and thought it suitable to post...

Roger Short featured in television science show, "Catalyst" Reviewed / Amended: March 2004 It was to tell his story about LemonAIDS. HIV / AIDS is the Black Death of our times - tens of millions of people are infected or at high risk. And the problem is worst in the developing world where few practice preventive measures. But Australian scientist Roger Short thinks a cheap, easy-to-use solution might be growing right under our noses. It's lemon juice. An ancient douche-style contraceptive that was encouraged by such luminaries as Casanova, lemon juice has dropped out of modern memory. But not only does lemon juice kill sperm, lab tests show it kills the AIDS virus itself. Sceptics from the pharmaceutical world say it will never work. Undeterred, Roger is planning field trials in Thailand. It just might be that the simple lemon is the aid everyone's been searching for. Full Program Transcript Narration: The deadly prophesies of a global AIDS pandemic have become reality. Infection rates in some parts of the world are a staggering 50%. And still we have no cure, no vaccine, and even condoms are too expensive for much of the developing world. But one man is now making an extraordinary claim - that a commonplace, affordable AIDS preventive, may be right under our noses. Professor Roger Short: In almost every country where HIV is a problem, there's a lemon tree with a lemon on it, and if only we could think how to use the lemon we could swat HIV. Narration: Reproductive physiologist Professor Roger Short is the man behind this startling idea. It came after talking to some elderly women about traditional contraceptives - which include lemons placed inside the vagina. Professor Roger Short: When the lecture was over 10 or 15 of these women came up to me one by one, put their hand on my shoulder and said in them days my dear I used half a lemon it was all right for me. Narration: History books reveal a longstanding link between the lemon and lovemaking - even Casanova advocated half a lemon as a cervical cap. But last Christmas, Roger suddenly realised it could do much more. Professor Roger Short: It was like a bolt from the blue, it sort of hit me on the side of the face and it was right there, I thought, my golly lemon juice that would kill HIV. Narration: Roger's flash of inspiration was that acids were already known to kill HIV, and lemon juice was acidic. Had he found a combined contraceptive and HIV blocker? If so, it would be incredibly easy to use. Professor Roger Short Professor Roger Short: So let's just take a slice off the end of this lemon and we'll just squeeze a bit of the juice out of it. And there you've got contraception Casanova style? And that was Casanova's cervical cap and indeed it led to the development of the cervical cap and let's just squeeze the rest of this lemon out and see how much juice we get. There we go. So 1cc is all you need. Jonica Newby: That's hardly anything. I'm amazed. And how would you then administer that into the vagina? Professor Roger Short: Well probably the simplest thing is to take just a little bit of cottonwool and just soak it up and that can be put in the vagina. Jonica Newby: Wouldn't it hurt? I mean it's lemon juice. Professor Roger Short: Well all I can say is that I've tried it. I've poured neat lemon juice all over my penis thinking oh it's going to hurt, it's going to hurt, it's going to hurt. I didn't feel a thing. Most importantly, it's cheap enough to be used in the developing world. Narration: That's what interested Dr Rob Moodie, Head of Victorian Health, and a former director of UNAIDS in Africa. Dr Robert Moodie: I mean, if it's true it's an amazing story because we've been looking for the last 15 years for a viricide or microbicide that's effective, that's safe, that's acceptable, that's easy to use, that can be controlled by women. Narration: That's potentially revolutionary in Africa, where the number one AIDS risk factor for women is being married. Dr Robert Moodie: It's very hard to talk about sex. It's hard to negotiate the use of condoms. So something that woman can use in many cases without their husbands knowing means that they can be protected. Narration: Still, the theory required scientific proof. Nine months ago, research began. Step one: to see what lemon juice does to sperm. Dr Rob Moodie -VicHealth Dr Rob Moodie -VicHealth Professor Roger Short: Well this is the acid test. Here's some fresh human sperm and some fresh lemon juice. Narration: Under the microscope, one sperm heads straight for the lemon juice. Within a few seconds, it's paralysed. Jonica Newby: Gosh, they're hardly moving at all. It's so quick! Narration: Next step - the big one. Does it kill the AIDS virus? Jonica Newby: So this is live HIV? Professor Roger Short: Yes. This is one of the strains of virus that infects T cells very efficiently. Narration: In goes a solution of 10% lemon juice. To Roger's relief, the virus has been reduced 1000 percent. Professor Roger Short: Even if we halved HIV we could strike an enormous blow for the pandemic. If we could knock it by a thousandfold, we've really hit it on the head. Narration: But some experts are sceptical about Roger Short's quick fix. Dr John Raff is CEO of Starpharma, one of 60 companies that have spent the last decade developing vaginal HIV blockers. And he thinks lemon juice could do more harm than good. Dr John Raff: Lemon juice is very acidic, it's 2 - 3, which is not far off battery acid. I'm not saying that lemon juice is the same as battery acid but the same sort of thinking comes into it. If lemon juice damages the vagina, it could be disastrous, like another hoped for AIDS preventive - nonoxynol-9. A clinical trial recently showed that increased the incidence of AIDS in prostitutes by over 50%, which is a very dramatic result. And in that situation, the irritation and breaking down of the natural barriers in the lining of the vagina was encouraging AIDS uptake. Narration: Roger Short acknowledges the risk, and is now planning safety tests. But in the face of the AIDS pandemic, he's adamant we don't have time for the slow process of standard phase one, two and three medical trials. Professor Roger Short: The information that here is a new possibility has to got to be given to developing countries so that they can actually try it. We can't afford to wait with 16,000 new infections a day and we sit here and think about Western ethics. We're fiddling whilst Rome burns. Narration: So Roger Short has gone straight to one of the world's AIDS hotspots: Thailand. Last month, he began a media blitz at the invitation of a Thai senator. They're hoping to begin acceptability trials here - aware that in the centres of the AIDS crisis, solutions don't have to be perfect. Dr Robert Moodie: Well, I mean if you have something that's 60% effective, but it's used by half the women in Africa then it's going to save literally millions of lives over the next ten years. And unlike the high-tech products being developed by StarPharma and others, this one can't be patented. Professor Roger Short: Our compound is free to anyone in a developing country who chooses to grow it. Whatever compounds they come up with will be tied up in patents as they already are, which will be owned by Western pharmaceutical companies. Narration: And pharmaceuticals will cost at least one or two dollars US per use. When half the world lives on less than two dollars US per day, a few cents for a lemon looks far more attractive. Jonica Newby: Finally, what if the lemon juice doesn't work? Professor Roger Short: I don't believe that's even an option. It will work because in vitro it works, it kills the virus, it kills the sperm, and I'm a great believer in history and people wouldn't have used it for three, four hundred years if it didn't work.

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