"A Compound From Olive-pomace Oil Gets 80% Slowing Down Of HIV Spread"
July 9, 2007 3:45 PM   Subscribe

In the past, various possible treatments and methods have been suspected of helping combat AIDS, which have later been proven correct. Other, less reputable treatments have also been claimed to work, the likes of which descend towards malpractice, pseudoscience and criminal negligence. But in a turnabout, the olive oil element of South Africa's controversial treatment, deemed to be "Africa's Solution", actually helps as well.
posted by duende (7 comments total)
I thought Africa's solution was sex with a virgin.
posted by grobstein at 4:32 PM on July 9, 2007

Olive oil can never get enough props.
posted by phaedon at 4:59 PM on July 9, 2007

This is interesting, but I had the wrong impression at first from the title. I thought it meant that olive oil slows down the spread of HIV from person to person, but it really meant that a certain compound slows down the spread from cell to cell. It acts as a protease inhibitor:
If the infected CD4+ cell is activated — which happens any time the immune system is called upon to respond to an infection or allergen or cancerous cell — instead of performing its proper functions, it will start making and releasing new virus. The first step is to make long chains of viral protein. The protease enzyme works like scissors to cut these protein chains into the smaller pieces that make up HIV. The newly cut pieces are assembled into new virus particles, which then “bud” out from the host cell and can go on to infect other cells.

Protease inhibitors (PIs) are drugs that interfere with the action of protease. They prevent the protease enzyme from cutting the long chains of new viral protein. Although new virus can be formed, it is defective and cannot infect new cells. Protease inhibitors have a very powerful ability to suppress the virus and are an important part of many drug combinations.
(From the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange's page on protease inhibitors and the viral life cycle.)

Of course, this would bring a person's viral load down, making it more difficult for them to infect anyone else, so it may also help to slow the spread from person to person.

Also, it says in the last link, "Whilst manitol is obtained from olive oil waste water (alpechín) and olive-tree leaves, both acids are extracted from dry olive-pomace oil (orujo) produced at the olive-milling stage during olive oil elaboration process. To this day, only oleanolic acid - produced in China - has been marketed. However, maslinic acid has gained importance as it is not still on the market and has a greater biological activity." Does this mean that just ingesting olive oil would not have the same effect? It needs to be extracted more specifically than that, right? So South Africa's 'treatment' still doesn't work.
posted by heatherann at 5:17 PM on July 9, 2007

Um, peer reviewed replicated where?
posted by Maias at 6:35 PM on July 9, 2007

Olive oil is a great 80% vinaigrette for a tossed salad.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:46 PM on July 9, 2007

It only works if you also get the beet root, lemons, and garlic. Please don't misquote the esteemed South African minister of health.
posted by Goofyy at 1:39 AM on July 10, 2007

This is actually bad news. (It's old news, too. The press release from last December fails to mention that this has been known at least since 1996. As it is, this in vitro experiment adds little that can help us. It may be a source for another PI, but we've got very good PIs already.)

It's bad news because it might provide a false hope that eating olive oil would slow the spread of HIV, for which there is no evidence, and a lot of dis-confirming evidence. This research doesn't justify Fana Khaba's approach to avoiding treatment, it makes it clear that whatever the affects of olive oil, they aren't enough to keep someone with HIV alive.
posted by OmieWise at 5:55 AM on July 10, 2007

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