A product from the soybean plant may be able to provide a treatment for HIV that could prove to be effective. Current therapies face resistance issues that are common to drugs that have been on the market for a while. Could that make soybeans the key to a new HIV therapy?

According to a recent study, it certainly shows promise. It’s important to note, however, that eating a great deal of soy products isn’t necessarily the solution to treating HIV. When you eat soy products, you get some genistein (the compound has been found to have an HIV-inhibiting effect), but whether or not the amount from ingesting soybeans is anywhere near enough is still up in the air and is hoped to be the subject of further study.

Genistein works by blocking the lines of communication between the sensors that are on the surface of a cell and those in the interior of the cell. HIV tricks exterior cell sensors into helping it spread throughout the body, thus making genistein an important compound in combating the disease.

Since genistein doesn’t actually fight the virus, it leaves little opportunity for the virus to build up a resistance in any way. Another major advantage is that a plant-based treatment should have far fewer side effects than current treatments. A combination of the highly toxic drugs that are presently used can cause HIV to mutate, which may ultimately result in resistance to the treatment.

Right now, the order of business is to determine how much genistein is necessary to fight HIV. Then it can be determined if a dietary change can be effective or if the compound will have to be mass produced as a medication. While budget cuts are threatening to limit further research, fundraisers will attempt to save the day. Previous fundraisers have proven successful, and it is hoped that the research can continue as planned.