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Seeking HIV Treatment Clues in the Neem Tree

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Tall, with dark-green pointy leaves, the neem tree of India is known as the "village pharmacy." As a child growing up in metropolitan New Delhi, Sonia Arora recalls on visits to rural areas seeing villagers using neem bark to clean their teeth. Arora's childhood memories have developed into a scientific fascination with natural products and their power to cure illnesses.

Now an assistant professor at Kean University in New Jersey, Arora is delving into understanding the curative properties of the neem tree in fighting the virus that causes AIDS. She presented her data at a poster session on April 22, at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego. Her preliminary results seem to indicate that there are compounds in neem extracts that target a protein essential for HIV to replicate. If further studies support her findings, Arora's work may give clinicians and drug developers a new HIV-AIDS therapy to pursue.

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