Coral reefs provide potent new anti-HIV proteins

April 29, 2014 |

Discovery raises hope for new methods to prevent the spread of HIV

Researchers have discovered a new class of proteins capable of blocking the HIV virus from penetrating T-cells, raising hope that the proteins could be adapted for use in gels or sexual lubricants to provide a potent barrier against HIV infection.

The proteins, called cnidarins, were found in a feathery coral collected in waters off Australia’s northern coast. Researchers zeroed in on the proteins after screening thousands of natural product extracts in a biorepository maintained by the National Cancer Institute. “It’s always thrilling when you find a brand-new protein that nobody else has ever seen before,” said senior investigator Barry O’Keefe, Ph.D., deputy chief of the Molecular Targets Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research. “And the fact that this protein appears to block HIV infection—and to do it in a completely new way—makes this truly exciting.”

In the global fight against AIDS, there is a pressing need for anti-HIV microbicides that women can apply to block HIV infection without relying on a man’s willingness to use a condom. Koreen Ramessar, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Cancer Institute and a member of the research team, said cnidarins could be ideally suited for use in such a product because the proteins block HIV transmission without encouraging the virus to become resistant to other HIV drugs.

“When developing new drugs, we’re always concerned about the possibility of undermining existing successful treatments by encouraging drug resistance in the virus,” said O’Keefe. “But even if the virus became resistant to these proteins, it would likely still be sensitive to all of the therapeutic options that are currently available.”


The research team identified and purified the cnidarin proteins, then tested their activity against laboratory strains of HIV. The proteins proved astonishingly potent, capable of blocking HIV at concentrations of a billionth of a gram by preventing the first step in HIV transmission, in which the virus must enter a type of immune cell known as the T-cell.

“We found that cnidarins bind to the virus and prevent it from fusing with the T-cell membrane,” said Ramessar. “This is completely different from what we’ve seen with other proteins, so we think the cnidarin proteins have a unique mechanism of action.”

The next step is to refine methods for generating cnidarins in larger quantities so the proteins can be tested further to identify potential side effects or activity against other viruses. “Making more of it is a big key,” said O’Keefe. “You can’t strip the Earth of this coral trying to harvest this protein, so our focus now is on finding ways to produce more of it so we can proceed with preclinical testing.”

The scientists discovered cnidarins while screening for proteins, a largely understudied component of natural product extracts found in the National Cancer Institute’s extract repository. The institute maintains a large collection of natural specimens gathered from around the world under agreements with their countries of origin. The specimens are available to researchers across the United States.

“The natural products extract repository is a national treasure,” said O’Keefe. “You never know what you might find. Hopefully, discoveries like this will encourage more investigators to use this resource to identify extracts with activity against infectious disease.”

53 Responses to Coral reefs provide potent new anti-HIV proteins

  1. Lindo Khoza May 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    The question of whether or not the cure for HIV/AIDS will be discovered is yet even closer to getting a “Yes!” for a reply. Such developments are very inspiring to all of us. Knowing the agony being accompanied by HIV/AIDS and other such diseases, we should support such research but we shouldn’t forget that prevention is better than cure.

  2. Redelinghuys(14034302 May 5, 2014 at 3:43 am #

    Yet another reason why we need conserve our reefs and our oceans.

    HIV Aids is probably the disease responsible for the most deaths in South Africa. Unfortunately no cure has been found yet. The news that a coral may contain a protein to cure HIV is good news indeed. Just think of the money the government would be able to save and the lives that would be enriched and prolonged with this potential new cure.

    But I fear for our coral reefs now as pharmaceutical companies may start pillaging reefs to find this newly discovered protein. Sea life is already on the brink of collapse, and cannot sustain any more pressure from humans. I do hope that mankind will start to realise the importance of our oceans.

  3. A.R.D u14044456 May 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    It is always thrilling to discover new forms of treatment and medication, however there are always socio-economic,environmental and sometimes ethical problems regarding the field of biomedicine. Because HIV is such a prominent disease, I think that the likelihood of funding will be great. Because HIV is also a very advanced disease, I think that it is important to discover new ways of treating it.

    However a major concern would be sustainability if this coral is to be harvested for research and pharmaceutical production. Not many people are aware of the fact that a large number of sea organisms are endangered or destroyed. I think that it is better to continue other treatments that do work before resorting to this newly discovered one. If a plan can be made to harvest the coral sustainably there will be no problem.

    A field that has always interested me is Ethno-Botany. It involves using plants that are indigeneous to the land. These plants can be used for medicinal and healing purposes in a way in which does not harm the environment. I think that this is a particularly important aspect of the biomedical field, because if we work with what we have, we will not destroy the Earth.

  4. A. Meyer 14038863 May 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Third world countries such as South Africa have high numbers of people who suffer at the hands of HIV. It’s a disease feared by all as it has always known to be incurable but this article shows that there is hope and that research to find a cure can result into working treatments. We might not yet have found this cure but preventing this virus by using the protein found in coral is a good start to ending the suffering that HIV has caused.
    There is one thing that concerns me. If people are to be treated with the coral protein what would become of the beautiful habitats that the corals form? Would this prevention of HIV cause the destruction of our fragile coral reefs and the organisms that call them home?
    If this treatment with this protein is produced many things have to be considered such as the influence on the environment.

  5. Tsoka Phiri 14085667 May 4, 2014 at 7:22 am #

    Zimasa , your concern is genuine because if the coral reef does prove to provide a cure our world may not change instantly. But if you look at the bigger picture future generations will be positively affected. Prevention of HIV will mean that countries will have a stronger work force which will greatly affect the economy.The quantity of Healthy Births will increase meaning a greater number off young people who will graduate. So if you think about it HIV does greatly affect our lives and curing it will greatly impact our world

  6. Michelle 14028035 May 4, 2014 at 5:37 am #

    It is such a relief to know that new methods of treatment for HIV are being discoveredn as the existing treatments, although are successful, are highly expensive and many sufferers can not afford such costs. One can only hope that this new nethod, which makes use of these Cnidarins, will be reasonably priced and will not destroy the natural coral reefs. This potential reef destruction will be of much concern to environemntal activists as the rate at which coral reefs are being killed due to oceanic pollution is remarkably high. I believe that even if this new drug will not be viable, it will definetly be the first step to the discovery and production of new and alternative drugs which can combat HIV.

  7. Todd Skinner u14182948 May 4, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    This is very exciting news that their might be a cure in the midst for HIV. The HIV virus has killed millions since its existence, leaving many children parent-less. This is extremely important for South Africa as this country have the highest HIV population in the world. There needs to be away the the coral reefs can be conserved as well as the HIV cure to be mass produced as it is needed all over the world. This is due to the fact that if the coral reefs are depleted, this ocean life will begin to decline and it will have a chain effect on all of the ecosystems. This discovery just shows that nothing is impossible and that anything can be done if people are dedicated enough to do it.

  8. u14133815 May 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    This blog post grabbed my full attention.
    To inhabitants of South-Africa, this is a big and astonishing step in the right direction, because we see the implications of HIV/AIDS on a daily basis, as South-Africa’s HIV/AIDS rate is one of the highest in the world.

    The first step of infection of the HIV virus, is the penetration of T-cells in the human body. Thus, the discovery of this protein, that blocks the virus from even penetrating the T-cells in the body, might be one of the key discoveries that are needed to understand and prevent the spread of the HIV virus worldwide.
    It is needed to find a way to distribute big amounts of this protein, without harvesting or destroying the coral reefs. As a SCUBA diver, I have witnessed the effects that even the touch or removal of a small piece of coral has on a reef, deteriorating the entire reef. Therefore, I am glad to see that the researchers are focusing on finding new ways to duplicate and produce this protein, without causing harm to the coral reefs.

    I truly look forward to see how the research progresses and what other natural substances are found that can potentially help in preventing or even curing other diseases.

  9. u14037786 May 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    As excited as I am to hear about this discovery especially coming from South Africa, I can’t but help express my concern about the already disappearing and “endangered” coral reefs of this Earth. How do we further this research without endangering the fragile coral reefs?

  10. Mberipura Tjijorokisa (u14048452) May 3, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    HIV is a prominent health concern in South Africa. In fact, South Africa has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rate than any other country. This remarkable discovery of proteins, found in coral, that are capable of blocking the HIV virus from penetrating T-cells can save millions of lives. Although the discovery of these proteins is truly outstanding, the extraction of these proteins may be detrimental to the environment. I believe that it is our responsibility to preserve our environment and its inhabitants.Yes, we have a responsibility to humans first but if we destroy our coral reefs through the constant extraction of the cnidarin protein we will destroy it and many other aquatic life will go with it and this will affect us in the long run. Preservation of the environment should remain top priority no matter how great the discovery.

  11. 14005311 May 3, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    This is astonishing, to think that coral can be the leading cure for such a widespread, fatal disease. I look forward to the progression of this research!

    As a SCUBA diver I have personally witnessed how coral reefs have deteriorated over time. I agree to a great extent that the main focus of this research should be on how to establish mass production of this protein without diminishing the coral reefs that provides it. I feel that this research also obtains greater potential which could determine ways in which we can lessen the harmful affect humans have on these reefs and save them from an ever increasing rate of depletion.
    This research has my full support and I will continue to review articles published related to this topic in the near future.

  12. Monique Maartens (27114415) May 3, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Each advance in medicine or preventative measure against HIV/AIDS is always exciting. Unfortunately many trails have failed to provide a cure against this cunning virus that has claimed many lives and left countless living in fear or struggling to survive the horrible impact it makes on all those surrounding it. I am hopeful that every new discovery such as the cnidarin proteins will bring changes like the ART (antiretroviral) medication that is currently provided to patients. One of the current drugs being given to the patients in South Africa works on the same principle. Entry Inhibitors, which is only one of the six major drugs used to treat HIV, interfere with the virus’ ability to bind to receptors on the outer surface of the cell it tries to enter. When receptor binding fails, HIV cannot infect the cell. One thing that does bring to question the effect that the cnidarin protein will have is whether it will be effective on its own, as the previously mentioned ARTs is recommended to be taken in combination with each other to prevent strains of HIV from becoming resistant to a type of antiretroviral drug. This approach is called HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) and is currently used in South Africa. From my understanding it seems that the cnidarin protein may be used more as a topical treatment and the suggestion giving the woman more control serves as a reminder of the gap in the gender fairness and basic human rights we all should have.

  13. 14103852 May 3, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    This discovery demonstrates the profound possibilities that exist in the world – we can never assume that we have discovered everything. Cnidarins do not only represent the new proteins or biological substances that can be discovered but new methods of preventing and treating disease that are possible. Despite the exciting advancements that can be made with findings such as this one, it becomes very important to consider the ethical implications. I believe that no matter what the discovery, preservation of the environment should remain top priority. Humanity is overpopulating the Earth and taking advantage of its natural resources. Coral reefs are already in a precarious position due to our actions and while these researchers are determined to find a way of artificially producing the protein, other people may not have qualms with exploiting the corals on which they are found. Life is sustained through a flow of processes from so-called ‘lower’ organisms through to humans and great care must be taken with preserving organisms we ultimately rely on for survival.

  14. Eva (14119596) May 3, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    It is quite remarkable that such a protein has been discovered and if it truly works, it will surely be a breakthrough. I’ve recently heard about frequency-therapy – a therapy through which a disease can be cured by killing the organism causing the disease with specific frequencies. Isn’t it possible that this therapy can be used to cure HIV?

  15. 14006872 May 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    I recently read a blog relating to how low cholesterol in immune cells slows HIV progression. The blog described a similar process for how the transfer of the virus is prevented. Low cholesterol in immune cells also inhibits the first step in HIV transmission, which requires that the virus be transmitted to a T-cell. This suggests that we should be focusing on preventing the transfer of the disease to these cells. If cnidarians and low cholesterol in immune cells could be used together to inhibit this transfer to T-cells, then it could very easily be possible that these discoveries may lead to both preventions and cures for the disease.

  16. ZIMASA 14055041 May 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm #


  17. C.Bone(14007071) May 2, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Could there really be a way to prevent HIV infection? For so many years scientists have been searching high and low for a slight hint of how to prevent this infection and now, after finding this protein they have finally found what they have been searching for! Thousands of women and men worry daily over the thought of possibly obtaining HIV from their partner during sexual intercourse. But now that there could possibly be a protein that could somehow block the spread of HIV infection, this could relieve the stress for many people. Discovering these cnidarin proteins could prove highly revolutionary in the world of science. These could possibly help reduce the number of HIV infected people in the world and could potentially prevent millions from dying from the disease, in turn lowering the death rate. The discovery of these particular proteins is truly remarkable which could prove beneficial to so many people.

  18. Tsoka Phiri 14085667 May 2, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    The issue of mass production raised by Fellin Lottering 14103029 is quite a serious matter. Nearly 5 years ago coral reefs where estimated to cover a space of an approximate of 284 300 square kilometres. But the raise in sea temperature, sea level and the ph change from acidic all as a result of greenhouse effects does pose a threat to their ecosystem.

    But hopefully Recombinant DNA which is the method of producing insulin from E.Coli cells brought up by A Karodia will serve as a solution. As it involves extracting genes from one cell and combining them with the DNA of another I do see this mechanism being a long term solution as DNA does replicate.

  19. Karlien 14020514 May 2, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    HIV is a very big problem, not only in South Africa, but all over the world.

    This new protein gives hope to the infected people, because they now have a new possibility of a cure. Even if this protein does not kill the virus, it still shows possibilities for further studies for a cure.

    The fact that the scientists think farther to not only use these proteins, but to produce more without having to use up all of the natural ones is impressive. It makes people more excited about the research of these proteins.

    If this protein’s abilities to stop the virus from binding with the T-cell could be added to medicine or other agents, there will be even more possibilities to find cures, not only for HIV but other viruses as well.

  20. Brittany Hopkinson 14070988 May 2, 2014 at 4:09 am #

    This study has the potential to inspire the creation of a full proof method to prevent the contraction of HIV and thereby could potentially create a lowering in the number of AIDS cases reported. this protein is unique in the fat that it won’t affect the efficiency of other anti HIV drugs while being used in conjunction with these medications. The discovery of this protein could also lead to more research being done into the mechanism of how the protein prevents the virus from binding to T cells and perhaps could inspire research into similar proteins in preventing the contraction of other types of diseases.

  21. A Karodia (14082102) May 1, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    The discovery of this new protein is a revolutionary one!! And will hopefully help women from contracting HIV.

    At the end of “Fellin Lottering (14103029)” comment she mentioned her excitement with regards to the method of mass production of the protein. Could similar technology to that is used in the production of Insulin for diabetics by the modification of the bacteria E.coli to be able to produce the insulin be used as an alternative to the destruction of coral reefs?

  22. Maritza (u14055971) May 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    The protein cnidarins that were found in the feathery coral in the waters in Australia is truly remarkable. A all natural protein barrier against HIV that is wonderful news. This finding can also lead to a cure for HIV. I’m glad that they realise they can’t exploit the coral reef and are looking for alternatives. In my opinion our oceans are filled with magical things some witch will kill you but there is also those that can help us find cures for all kinds of diseases. But like every thing else in this world the ocean is noy a endless put of resources so we have to protect it. It hope this cnidarins proteins can lead to a cure for HIV because of all the lives that has already been lost due to it.

  23. Nicole (14012287) May 1, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    HIV is a great cause of death in the world, especially in African countries and the mere hope that there may be a full-proof way to prevent it is absolutely exciting. It is incredible the opportunities that the discoveries of this new protein can bring due to the fact that the mechanism by which the protein binds to the HIV virus prevents it from infecting T-cells can be studied. This understanding can provide a platform for the development of drugs that can inhibit the HIV virus from infecting T-Cells. Studying this mechanism may allow scientists to develop a similar drug that mimics the inhibition of the protein against the HIV virus and this can be used not only to prevent the infection of HIV into T-Cells but also reverse the infection in people who already have the disease. The possibilities of this discovery seems endless and is extremely exciting for the medical community and people all over the world infected by HIV.

  24. Tsoka Phiri 14085667 May 1, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    The Potent Anti-HIV protein found in the coral reefs will bring a great deal of hope to this world. Especially to the people of my land South Africa as it is a country greatly ravaged by this virus in Jan 27 2012 4.4 Million people have been recorded to have died from the virus and it continues to devastate our land as it mostly affects people between the ages of 15 to 49 years as that is our most productive sector. What is most encouraging about this new protein is that it disarms the virus from becoming drug resistant which is what most virus are known for doing making it a larger problem to find cures for them. Having it adapted to use by woman foresees us having a greater generation of babies that are born HIV free meaning they will be healthier and stronger and providing countries with a greater future. This also means that women will be able to protect themselves from the virus when having sexual intercourse with men who are unwilling to use protection with 500 000 rape cases being recorded in South Africa alone.

  25. Litia Yssel 14014981 May 1, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    This new discovery of proteins that could prevent HIV infection is extremely significant. The treatment currently being used to prevent HIV infection is antiretroviral (ARV) medication.

    The problem with ARV is that it has disadvantageous side-effects, such as nausea, severe fatigue, diarrhea, fever and muscle aches. The treatment also has to be completed for it to work efficiently and this normally takes long. These factors often lead to people discontinuing the treatment.

    Thanks to the discovery of cnidarian proteins, HIV infections could be prevented without people having to go through ARV. Hopefully this discovery will lead to more people taking action in preventing HIV infection, contributing enormously to the wellbeing of millions of individuals.

    A concern that could arise now that this discovery has been made is that the cnidarians could be depleted to extinction. But fortunately, scientists could use Biotechnology to make reconstructions of these proteins, making it a limitless source without endangering the cnidarians.

    This is indeed a very exciting discovery!

  26. Priyanka Maharajh 14193762 April 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Im completely taken back by this amazing discovery, it is not everyday that one finally achieves such a great height of success when it comes to HIV. This prevention method will definitely save millions of lives but i honestly feel that people who have coitus casually with any Tom, Dick or Harry shouldnt take advantage of this HIV prevention measure as they are going to be decreasing the coral reef population significantly. These poor plants shouldnt give up their lives just so you could go around having sexual intercourse for your own enjoyment and pleasure! It really is unfair.
    I believe that an efficient way to produce this prevention measure should be established by which the coral reef is conserved.
    The cnidarin protein is truly an immaculate discovery as it can also prevent the transmission of various other viruses.
    I believe that this discovery gives hope to humankind and proves that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to something. We are now progressing and its quite hopeful of me to say that we may even find a cure for HIV and cancer. Scientists are working on it as we speak and i honestly cant wait for the day when it actually happens. Hence this current discovery is a big step towards ultimate success.

  27. Byron Sonnekus 14188920 April 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    This seems to be a incredible breakthough in terms of the fight against HIV. The discovery of these proteins just proves how important the role of the prevention of a virus actually plays. By preventing the virus from actually binding to the T-cells the person would be safe from contracting the virus and eliminate the risk having the need for treatment. Another positive outcome is that the scientists wish to conserve the coral that contain these cniradin proteins.and what is to stop them from using this knowledge to create cures or prevention methods for other viruses ?

  28. naidoo 14018820 April 30, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    This is truly an amazing discovery however if we do not start conserving the coral populations, further research and eventually the use of these proteins will not be possible. Humans have contributed greatly to the degradation of the coral reefs on earth. Clear, shallow waters are essential for the survival of the coral reefs. Silting, algal growth and predation of coral reefs are the causes of human activities and lead to the death of the coral populations. Therefore the conservation of the coral reefs are essential for the use of the proteins to prevent the spread of HIV.

  29. Muhammad Seedat 14121388 April 30, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    If the application of these cnidarin proteins proves successful, this would be a ground-breaking achievement in the fight against the spread of HIV. Its highly effective capability of blocking the HIV virus from infecting T-cells proves its potential to become a potent drug or substance in preventing HIV infection.

    The cnidarin proteins can also be used to empower woman who are victims, majority of the time, to HIV infection because of careless males who refuse to wear condoms. If a microbicide is made, it can also be used by woman who live in areas where rape is common, so as to prevent infection in this unfortunate circumstance.

    Another important quality is that it does not affect other anti-HIV drugs. However, further research should be done on the side effects or harmful qualities it poses on application to the human body.

    Caution, however, must be taken in the harvesting on these precious proteins. The destruction of coral reefs must be prevented, and a method of mass production of the proteins should be found. Further research into where else these proteins can be found, i.e. from a more renewable source, should be pursued.

    Nevertheless, the discovery of these cnidarin proteins posts a great potential in the widespread struggle against HIV and AIDS. It will improve many lives and also prevent HIV from ruining many lives too, It is exciting to see the results if these proteins ever go to human trials.

  30. Nicole 14008760 April 30, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    A prevention of HIV fusing with the T-cells being found in a protein in coral is an amazing discovery! One that I would be interested in learning how it came about. The hope that this discovery will reduce the spread of HIV is one that I completely join in. However, the concerns raised in the above comments about whether this may lead to an increase in promiscuity due to removal of the fear of contracting the virus are valid. With the adaptations of the protein into gels and sexual lubricants, there may be a rise in sexual activity, and STDs may also spread at a greater rate. It will also depend largely on the manner in which the products will be distributed, whether they will be free or come at a cost, or perhaps take the form of vaccinations.
    All these factors will be taken into consideration in future I am sure. Currently the most important course of action will lie in extracting the protein without compromising already diminishing coral populations.

  31. 14083826 April 30, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    This is a ground breaking discovery that has the potential to save millions of lives. Not only can the cnidarin protein be used to prevent the transmission of HIV, but it can also be used to prevent the transmission of other viruses.

    It is great to see scientists using the environment effectively, whilst still bearing in mind their carbon footprint on the Earth. By searching for other viable options to mass produce the cnidarin protein scientists, are reducing our dependence and damage to the environment .

    How does this protein work? Will this protein only be used to prevent the transmission of HIV during sexual intercourse, or will there be another usable form of the protein that can be used by people, such as medical practitioners, who have a high exposure to HIV on a daily basis? If so one would agree that the discovery of this protein is indeed a remarkable one, as this protein will be an invaluable asset to developing countries and regions of the world that have populations ravaged by HIV.

  32. 14031231 April 30, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    If cnidarins can be mass-produced, there is potential to stop the spread of the AIDS virus in the next generation, thereby decreasing mortality rates and improving economies. This is made even more poignant by the fact people’s reliance on condoms (which don’t work in most cases) and antiretrovirals will decrease as a result.

    It is always cheaper to prevent a disease than it is to treat it or, cure it. With areas like Sub-Saharan Africa being ravaged by AIDS and civil war, a preventative measure that works (i.e. is more reliable than condoms) could turn some countries around.

    By having a preventative measure that can be used effectively, by one party, it greatly reduces the risk of spreading AIDS. One of the worst ways the virus is spread in Sub-Saharan African is through the intentional rape of victims by members of rebel militias. This leads to the need for antiretroviral medication which is expensive and is needed on a regular basis. It also leads to the potential of a new generation being born with the disease.

    If these proteins can be made available on a large scale, and cheaply enough, they could potentially turn around countries such as the DRC. Countries, which have been destroyed by the disease, will have lower mortality rates and as a result, a larger workforce of young, healthy individuals who are no longer at risk spreading the disease.

  33. Kayla Beechey 14082153 April 30, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    This is very exciting news! The fact that the scientists are still doing research on such a large scale in order for us to find a cure for this disease that has caused so many lives to be taken really inspires me, they could of given up long ago but yet now they have found something as small and as simple as a protein on a coral reef that can potentially save millions of lives. This is a major breakthrough in research and I only hope that it ends up being successful and we can prevent this disease from causing anymore damage. The only concern I have is that the coral will be depleted and become like so many other natural resources, non- renewable. I can only hope as said in the article, that the coral reefs will be protected in order for them not to be exploited.

  34. 14068720 April 30, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    This is really a ground breaking discovery. We hear about the effects of the virus on a daily basis, but now we hear of a legitimate way to prevent the virus from acting on the immune system. I also admire the fact that they wish to replicate the protein rather than to keep harvesting it. This will ensure the survival of the coral. If this leads to the prevention of the disease and possibly its extinction, it would have been a great privilege to be one of the first to read about it.

  35. u14007259 April 30, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    For years and years scientists have been trying hard to somehow find a way to prevent the transmission of HIV.Now finding the protein in the coral which could potentially result in the prevention of the transmission of HIV is a major break through in the medical world.HIV transmission has increased over the years and more and more people are becoming infected with the virus. If scientists could find a way to produce more of these corals so that we do not destroy the existing coral population in the oceans this discovery could benefit millions of people.It is unbelievable that something that we have known to exist in our oceans for so long can now help us in such a significant way.

  36. Melissa Repton April 30, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Research that brings ground breaking news like this makes me very excited. It’s so important to do research in order to improve the lives of people around the world and increase our understanding of the world around us. There are still organisms that remain undiscovered and the potential to finding cures is still high. As the blogger stated, this new evidence can encourage scientists to research more. I am sure scientists will find a way of cultivating these proteins in a lab rather than harvesting them from coral reefs, since that would pose a threat to the coral (which already are threatened by pollution and sedimentation, etc.) This also poses a question as to whether people will actually buy and use the new products they will make- perhaps it will be too expensive and people can be careless. This protein is after all only preventing HIV and not curing it (which is important because prevention is the best option to take) but people sometimes only realise the consequences of their actions after they are “paying for what they have done”. Then again you do get responsible people, so in my opinion the new products will only benefit a portion of people. I think this might only benefit first world countries. But at least we are moving a step closer to decreasing HIV around the world.

  37. Michael Ridge April 30, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    I find that this article is an incredible example of how we are progressing in the scientific field. I feel that this is a brilliant discovery. The prospect of HIV being prevented is an extremely exciting one. This research could be vital in the prevention of this disease. i believe that most HIV is spread around because of either rape, or partners that are unfaithful. The victims hereof should not have to be punished because of the offenders transgressions. I must commend researchers for attempting to find alternate sources of this protein in order to conserve the natural environment. It is rare, although lately less so, to worry about the needs of the human race and the environment.

  38. u14138736 April 30, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    The fact that the proteins will be coming from the ocean is a problem because the coral that the proteins come from can be seen as a fossil fuel; useful to us now, but with the millions of people who suffer from HIV, there is not enough of the coral to sustain medication that might be able to cure or prevent the spread of HIV. Research, however, on what the protein consists of, together with the idea of genetically engineering the protein might be a start to stopping the spread of HIV and Aids. If the research is of any use, then the discovery of this protein would be life changing for everyone.

  39. Martine April 30, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    I find this research absolutely amazing.To possibly think that the cure to aids could come from another natural resource such as a coral reef.This could open the door to potential new opportunities in the growth of coral reefs, let alone the potential cure to aids and the HIV virus

  40. Eloise Sarah Butcher (u14104254) April 30, 2014 at 4:05 am #

    It is amazing that something as seemingly simple as a protein in a coral reef could potentially save millions of lives. That being said, I said I think it will take many years before this product becomes commercially available. Hopefully, as mentioned in the article conservation and protection of these coral reefs will be of primary concern as we cannot hope to save lives by taking others and destroying a natural ecosystem and life cycle.

  41. madileng u14143446 April 30, 2014 at 3:45 am #

    From the protein in the Coral reefs is it anyhow possible for scientist to derive a new medicine which can completely cure HIV or they have to find another protein from a different species.

  42. u14061962 April 30, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    This new discovery proves how so many new cures for diseases such as HIV, are available in our oceans! We seem to always think we need to ‘develop’ new cures when actually, we should just look to nature. In saying that, I am very glad that senior investigator Barry O’Keefe agrees that conservation is one of the most important points to look at when doing this research. So yes, many of the “solutions” may lie deep beneath our oceans, but it is our responsibility to take care of how much we extract from nature. Conserving our oceans is just as important as discovering a new cure, as we cannot solve one problem by creating another! The different countries participating and agreeing to the research in their oceans, goes to show that we are finally standing together to help and heal. Brilliant research and contribution to medicine! This research will inspire many people and hopefully encourage young scientists to continue into this new, exciting field of research.

  43. Jamie Jaars u12166520 April 30, 2014 at 1:48 am #

    Research that can prevent the rise of a pandemic like HIV and AIDS around the world is very exciting and makes me proud to be a part of the science world.
    A stone in the path of such extraordinary discoveries is of course the cultivating of these proteins in a way that will not pose a threat to the coral which already are threatened and is a concern of extinction. I believe that if scientists can discover proteins that can prevent even the first step in the transmission of HIV then finding a way to develop this product without disturbing the marine ecosystem is definitely something we should keep our eyes open for.
    A concern I have with this is that although a prevention method has been found, this product could promote unsafe sexual activities and cause humans to care less about safe sex and their safety not only against HIV but also STDs. I fear that this product will lead to an increase in promiscuity and general lack of caution when it comes to having multiple sex partners or unprotected sex in general, because since there is a product doing the prevention for us, why do it ourselves? This is my biggest concern.

  44. u14043522 April 30, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    I find this very interesting although this proteins can prevent the HIV virus from penetrating T-cells and that this is a positive thing it can also motivate people to be comfortable with the mindset of not caring about getting HIV and this will also motivate prostitution which is very negative, but this is still a very interesting story and i thing that the minds behind this discovery is amazing. I would never even thought about coral reefs when talking about preventing HIV. Hopefully there is more of this discoveries.

  45. C.Friend-14029571 April 30, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    This discovery of the protein is a great step in the fight against HIV. Although ARV’s are doing a moderately good job helping infected people to live a relatively normal life a new prevention method is greatly needed. And with this new protein to study perhaps the research could go even further to birth a cure for the disease. this is a whole new branch for this field of medicine I believe and could lead to a great many things. It just goes to show how resourceful the ocean is and how much more we should be protecting the reefs.

  46. Melissa Repton April 30, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Research that brings ground breaking news like this makes me very excited. It’s so important to do research in order to improve the lives of people around the world and increase our understanding of the world around us. There are still organisms that remain undiscovered and the potential to finding cures is still high. As the blogger stated this new evidence can encourage scientists to research more. I am sure scientists will find a way of cultivating these proteins in a lab rather than harvesting them from coral reefs, since that would pose a threat to the coral (which already are threatened by pollution and sedimentation, etc.) This also poses a question as to whether people will actually buy and use the new products they will make- perhaps it will be too expensive and people can be careless. This protein is after all only preventing HIV and not curing it (which is important because prevention is the best option to take) but people sometimes only realise the consequences of their actions after they are “paying for what they have done”. Then again you do get responsible people, so in my opinion the new products will only benefit a portion of people. I think this might only benefit first world countries. But at least we are moving a step closer to decreasing HIV around the world.

  47. M Radley (14016916) April 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    It is truly amazing how something as simple as a protein can prevent the HIV virus from spreading. I believe that the possibilities of this protein are endless and it is a revolutionary step in the medical field. I hope the scientists developing this product will find a sustainable way of harvesting the protein without disturbing the underwater ecosystem. A concern I have with this is that it could promote unsafe sexual activities that could lead to the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases. Research should be done to see if this protein can prevent more than one sexually transmitted disease. If this product can be successfully created it will save the lives of people worldwide.

  48. Mikateko Mhangwana, 14096448 April 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    The HIV virus has caused the death of many people, and left many children orphans. This discovery could help save many lives, since finding a vaccine for the virus was challenging due to the fact that the virus changes forms and doesn’t behave like the other viruses, a persons immune system never gets rid of it. This discovery will help prevent it from entering the body which seems like a better solution, however my concern is that it will promote unsafe sexual activities among people and make way for other viruses, but all in all it is an amazing discovery.

  49. Liliza Kinnear April 29, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    I know with cancer cells, for instance, scientists can use nanotechnology to deactivate the cancer from the cancer cells in a human’s body. Is it possible for scientists to do the same with cells that have been infected with the HIV virus? Is it possible to deactivate the HIV virus from cells in a human’s body with nanotechnology?

  50. u14062659 April 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    The HIV virus is threatening the existence of mankind. With the discovery of this new preventative method, the possibility to save millions of people becomes a reality. This is an example of cross pollination between various fields of medical research, with the common objective of creating a medical breakthrough.

  51. Fellin Lottering (14103029) April 29, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    It is amazing how a discovery against HIV can be made in an area as unrelated as a coral reef. The discovery Cnidarins is a vital step towards women being able to fully protect themselves against contracting HIV from their partners.I think that the biggest concern that could be raised by this discovery is whether or not it will give people the freedom to safely practice their promiscuity, but prevention has always and will probably remain better than cure. I cannot help but be excited to know how this protein will be mass produced for therapeutic use

  52. U14013356 April 29, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    I believe that the discovery of this new protein is revolutionary. The possibilities of this protein being able to form a barier and even prevent the HIV virus from penetrating T-cells can save millions of lives in the long run. Further research should be encouraged in hope of finding a way to prevent, lower and maybe even cure HIV.

  53. u14010560 April 29, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    I find it very intriguing how the search for proteins in coral for cancer research has led to the discovery of a potential preventative to contracting HIV. This is a good demonstration of how one cannot be narrow minded when researching topics that may not appear to be related.

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