Since at least 2005 (the article reference will be given later in this posting), researchers have been aware that silver nanoparticles can block the HIV virus from entering a cell. The latest work in this area has resulted in a vaginal cream laced with silver nanoparticles according to a Jan. 28, 2014 news item on ScienceDaily,
Lara Villegas [Humberto Lara Villegas, specialist in nanoparticles and virology from the University of Monterrey, Mexico (UDEM)] explained that HIV makes its entry to immune cells (CD4) of the organism with the aid of a protein known as GP120, which allows the virus adherence to the cells. This same principle is used by silver nanoparticles to attach themselves to this protein and block it, turning the virus inactive.
The Mexican researcher informed that the cream has been tested in samples of human tissue and has proven the efficiency of silver nanoparticles to avoid the transmission of the virus through cervical mucous membrane.
The Jan. 28, 2014 Investigación y Desarrollo news release (on the Alpha Gallileo website), which originated the news item, provides additional details from Lara Villegas’ perspective,
The researcher from UDEM, who has worked in Israel and The United States, assured that after applied, the cream starts to work in less than a minute, and has an effective protection of up to 72 hours.
Given that the function of this product is the inactivation of the virus, although this is a vaginal cream, will also protect the sexual partner.
“Normally – he highlighted-, the medication used against the virus act within the cell to avoid its replication. This is a very different case, given that the nanoparticle goes directly against the HIV and no longer allows its entry to the cell”.
So far, no toxicity of the silver nanoparticles has been reported, although he added that research is yet to be performed to evaluate the possible side effects of silver properties.
“Right now, I am certain that this microbicide is going to avoid the virus entering the organism, but I cannot yet assure that is totally harmless, because the clinical trials are a long and expensive process”, the researched added.
He exposed that the use of gels are usually accompanied by irritation, which favors the entry of the virus, which is why the cream was enriched with an anti-inflammatory effect.
Currently, with the obtained results, researchers will proceed to perform experimentation in mice that accept human cells, to later begin with human clinical trials.
He added that this cream could prevent the transmition of other sexually acquired virus like the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Likewise, he considered that silver nanoparticles could be used to combat bacteria transmitted the same way.
As promised here’s a citation for and a link to the 2005 paper; I haven’t found any references in my admittedly brief search for a paper about this latest work,,
Interaction of silver nanoparticles with HIV-1 by Jose Luis Elechiguerra, Justin L Burt, Jose R Morones, Alejandra Camacho-Bragado, Xiaoxia Gao, Humberto H Lara, and Miguel Jose Yacaman. Journal of Nanobiotechnology 2005, 3:6 doi:10.1186/1477-3155-3-6
This paper is open access.
Here’s the Investigación y Desarrollo website which seems to act as a hub for research in Mexico. Note: You will need Spanish language skills to fully utilize this site.