Genetically modified rice helps to remove HIV ?
HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. In 2016, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children) – with a global HIV prevalence of 0.8% among adults. Around 30% of these same people do not know that they have the virus.India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. In 2016, HIV prevalence in India was an estimated 0.3%. This figure is small compared to most other middle-income countries but because of India’s huge population (1.324 billion) this equates to 2.1 million people living with HIV. In the same year, an estimated 62,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Researchers at the University of Lleida, Spain, in collaboration with the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, created a transgenic line of rice that produces three HIV-neutralizing proteins and could be used as a low-cost production method. The fact that the seeds procured can be easily grown and harvested and applied as a topical cream make this one of the most lucrative options. The seeds can be ground up to make an antiretroviral cream medication. The effect of the cream is set to be as effective as an HIV antiretroviral medication that can counterbalance the viruses.
In addition to boosting the activity of the anti-HIV proteins, the rice seeds provide a simpler platform to produce them as compared to conventional methods. Therapeutic proteins are produced in fermenters using microbial or mammalian cells, which can be expensive.