Geranium extracts shown to inhibit HIV-1

Scientists from Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen published study results on Thursday in Plos One that showed extracts of the geranium plant Pelargonium sidoides help prevent human immunodeficiency virus type 1 from invading human cells.

The scientists reported that the extracts represent a new variety of agents for treatment of HIV and AIDS.

"PS extracts are attractive candidates for increasing anti-HIV-1 therapy options in resource-limited settings, since they are easy to produce and do not require refrigeration," Institute of Virology Researcher and Team Leader Ruth Brack-Werner said. "The results of our study and the proven safety of PS extracts encourages their testing in HIV-1 infected individuals as next step."

The research team was lead by Brack-Werner and Markus Helfer of the Institute of Virology and Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin of the Analytical BioGeoChemistry research unit.

The research team found that PS extracts shield blood and immune cells from HIV-1 by blocking attachment of virus particles. According to study results, the antiviral effect of the extract is made possible by polyphenols. The safety of PS extracts has been proven in clinical trials, and are licensed as herbal medicine in Germany.

"PS-extracts are a very promising lead for the development of the first scientifically validated phytomedicine against HIV-1," Brack-Wener said. "PS extracts attack HIV-1 with a mode-of-action that is different from all anti-HIV-1 drugs in clinical use. Therefore a PS-based phytomedicine may be a valuable supplement for established anti-HIV therapies."