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Could a Drug Engineered from Bananas Fight Many Deadly Viruses? New Results Show Promise

(University of Michigan Health System) A banana a day may not keep the doctor away, but a substance originally found in bananas and carefully edited by scientists could someday fight off a wide range of viruses, new research suggests.
And the process used to create the virus-fighting form may help scientists develop even more drugs, by harnessing the "sugar code" that our cells use to communicate. That code gets hijacked by viruses and other invaders.
The new research focuses on a protein called banana lectin, or BanLec, that "reads" the sugars on the outside of both viruses and cells. Five years ago, scientists showed it could keep the virus that causes AIDS from getting into cells -- but it also caused side effects that limited its potential use.
Now, in a new paper…, an international team of scientists reports how they created a new form of BanLec that still fights viruses in mice, but doesn't have a property that causes irritation and unwanted inflammation.
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