The substance genistein, which is contained in soy, is one of the main phytoestrogens in plants. According to a group of scientists from George Mason University in the United States - this substance has the ability to stop AIDS infection of cells in the body.
Genistein is one of the best studied isoflavones. It is a phytonutrient found in soybeans and other legumes and is associated with flavonoids. In the body, they are converted into phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) - hormone-like substances that closely resemble the structure of the female hormone estrogen, without being steroids and blocking the growth of hormone-dependent and other tumors. In addition, they lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and thus protect against heart disease. It is even possible to stop hot flashes in menopausal women.
According to researchers, genistein may become an effective drug against AIDS. In addition, there is no risk of patients developing resistance when using it.
Genistein, as a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, prevents signals from surface sensors from penetrating inside the cell. Surface sensors transmit information about the environment to the cell and help it connect with other cells. The AIDS virus is known to use some of these sensors to cause the cell to send a signal that changes the permeability of its membrane, which allows the virus to penetrate inside it and begin its replication. As the virus multiplies, it leaves this cell and moves on to new ones. This is where genistein closes the "door" to AIDS - the membrane becomes impermeable to it.
This reduces the likelihood that a virus will develop resistance to standard drugs against the disease - it fails to penetrate cells and, if successful, remains trapped in them until the entire cell dies.
The team hopes that genistein can be used as adjunctive therapy along with existing ones. Unfortunately, a simple increase in soy consumption will not have a sufficient effect, as the concentration of the compound is low in soybeans, but with regular intake of soy products, it may have a positive effect.
In addition, scientists have to find out how toxic genistein is and whether its use has no previously known side effects.