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What's up with Prostratin?
Aug 15, 2006

Hi Dr. Daar,

I was surfing the Web and came across something called Prostratin (I am sure you have heard of it). It comes from the bark of some type of tree in Samoa and it supposedly has the ability to awaken latent HIV from infected cells. Is this true??

I also read that UC Berkeley was doing research to try to clone the gene that makes this compound and then study it. Has this line of research advanced any. I can't find anything on the Internet on this compound that's more recent than 2004. What's the latest?

Thanks.

Response from Dr. Daar

Thank you for your post. I have no direct clinical or research experience with this agent. I am aware of data having been presented and published that suggests that it might have effects on blocking HIV infection of cells in the laboratory while also stimulating those cells already infected to further release virus. These observations have been proposed as a means to purge infected cells from the body. While an interesting idea it is only a concept that would require a great deal more work before it could be shown to be of any value to people.

Only time will tell whether this agent, like so many others, will move forward.

Best, Eric


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