Scientists from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Illinois in Chicago working together on Biodiversity have recently discovered that a Vietnamese plant called the Willow-leaved Justicia, traditionally used to treat arthritis and rheumatism, was containing a potent anti-HIV compound more powerful than the AZT drug. The team was analyzing the extract as well as thousands of others plants to identify new drugs against HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Cancer.
The Patentiflorin A, a chemical found in the willow-leaved Justicia plant native to Southeast Asia, is more efficient against HIV than AZT, the cornerstone of all HIV drug treatments currently in use. Patentiflorin A like AZT inhibits the action of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme allowing HIV to insert its genetic code into a host cell’s DNA.
The researchers found that Patentiflorin A could perform this task much more efficiently than AZT was able to do it in both the earliest stages of HIV infection and after the virus was well-established in T cells, and was also effective against known drug-resistant strains of HIV. Scientists were also able to synthesize Patentiflorin A in the lab, which means maybe no need to create a farm to grow the plant avoiding then the financial burdens and environmental consequences.