We are mostly alive because our immune cells function to protect us against the every second exposure to microbes, that given the opportunity, could overwelm us and kill us. Well as immune cells age, they lose the ability to divide, and their disease-fighting abilities are compromised. This is especially important in chronic dangerous viruses like HIV. A new UCLA AIDS study may change all that.
The study noted that a chemical from a common Australian root, astralgus, often used in Chinese herbal medicine, may help telomeres in immune cells, that typically shorten as they age, resist the aging process and take much longer to succumb to the shortening effect that makes them weak.
The researchers feel that this new herb has the potential to replace or be added to the current HIV/AIDS - HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) which is not tolerated well by many patients. HAART is also quite costly, so having a plant-derived alternative could be a huge step, in affordable long term drug therapy.
At the heart of treating a chronic, debilitating disease that overwhelms the immune system, is the need to somehow strengthen and potentiate the immune cells so they can fight the virus and hold it at bay. The researchers believe this plant root could hold great potential for an affordable way to accomplish just that.
(Study appears in November 15th issue of Journal of Immunology).
Published On: November 16, 2008