One of the great mysteries of this century is the one how a young girl in Florida contracted Aids. The initial reports indicated that she may have contracted it from her dentist. Unfortunately, this theory was full of loopholes. One was that with all the millions of dental office visits each year, why were there not more than one case reputed nationwide? This fact plagued researchers over the next few years. Perhaps there was something in the saliva which prevents or inhibits Aids. Recently, scientists have discovered a protein in saliva that in test tubes prevent the Aids virus from infecting cells in humans. This explains why the spread of AIDS in humans is non-existent through the saliva. Dr. Tessie McNeely of the National Institute of Dental Research in Bethesda, Maryland and researchers from Amgen Inc. did the research and presented it at the National Conference on Human Retroviruses on January 30, 1995 in California. Now Amgen have genetically engineered the protein molecule in the saliva that prevents AIDS and are trying to find out if large doses can prevent AIDS.
There have been cases of AIDS reported, but they seem to only be caused by blood to blood oral transmission and are very rare. Nobody has documented a case of AIDS transmission through kissing. “That’s why we decided to look at saliva,” said McNeely, who initially studied her own saliva. The researchers added this saliva protein to a test tube with cells infected with the AIDS virus and found that the virus could not attach itself to the cell membrane in order to infect the cells. Even more impressive, the researchers could wash the protein out of the test tubes and the immune system of the cells were still protected for up to four weeks. It took only minute amounts of this protein called SLPI (for those who want to know what it stands for- SECRETORY LEUKOCYTE PROTEASE INHIBITOR) to produce this large amount of protection for the cells. Since SLPI is found normally in the blood also, but in very small amounts, It reasons that increasing the blood levels could help to treat AIDS without producing many of the side effects found in AIDS related medication.
This news is also good for people who were afraid to go to the dentist because of the fear of AIDS.