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Freeze-Dried Formula May Block HIV Virus in Breast Milk
Date:7/3/2008

Could help prevent spread of disease in developing countries, study suggests,,

THURSDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- In developing countries where breast-feeding is a necessity, and HIV is rampant, the risk of disease transmission through breast milk might be reduced if infants were first fed a freeze-dried formula full of good bacteria that could capture and potentially destroy the deadly virus.

But that hope is theoretical, because the formula hasn't been tested in humans. However, researchers from the University of Chicago report that they are one giant step closer to that reality, because they have designed a method that allows the good bacteria to remain active, even without refrigeration.

"The one major challenge for infant products going to Africa or other poor regions is that they don't have refrigeration, so anything you send has to be heat-resistant," explained one of the researchers, Lin Tao, an associate professor in the department of oral biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Tao presented the findings Thursday at the International Association for Dental Research annual meeting, in Toronto.

Lactobacillus is a bacterium normally found in the mouth. It's one of the good bacteria found in some dairy products, such as yogurt or kefir. Surprisingly, this common bacteria has the ability to "capture" the HIV virus.

"HIV, though quite deadly as a disease, as a virus is relatively weak, so it's not surprising to find out that lactobacillus can act against HIV and maybe prevent its incorporation into mammalian cells," said Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine and the author of False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.

Tao and his colleague, Dr. R. Chang from Lavax, of Palatine, Ill., developed the new freeze-drying method for maintaining lactobacilli in a hot environment, and in the current study, they test
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