Banana claim unproven

Bananas now a hot medical debate.
Bananas now a hot medical debate.

AN Australian professor says American researchers claiming bananas could be a powerful weapon against HIV are jumping the gun.

Scientists at an American University announced this week a lectin found in bananas proved as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs in laboratory tests. However, Professorial Fellow at the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Professor Roger Short, said the find was far from ground-breaking.

“This research is miles away from proving and practical application in real life,” Prof. Short said.

“Yes, there is a lectin in bananas which, in the laboratory in a test tube, will stop HIV binding to white blood cells, which is quite interesting.

“But there is no evidence that it would be of actual use for men and women in preventing the spread of HIV. First, you would have to extract the lectin and then, you have to find an application. The research doesn’t even suggest either of those.”

He said there are specific receptors in the male and female reproductive organs that the HIV virus is transmitted through and until researchers can show the lectin blocks those receptors; they 'haven’t really got anything to talk about’.

Having worked extensively in the area of HIV prevention, Prof. Brown compared the study to his work with lemon juice.

“Lemon juice is very effective in killing the HIV virus in minutes – if you put lemon juice with the HIV virus in a test tube in the lab it will kill it like no-one’s business. This research may be 20 years away from being close to real world applications.”

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