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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1989 Aug 16;81(16):1254-8.

AIDS-antiviral sulfolipids from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

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  • 1Division of Cancer Treatment, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.


A recently developed tetrazolium-based microculture assay was used to screen extracts of cultured cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) for inhibition of the cytopathic effects of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), which is implicated as a causative agent of AIDS. A number of extracts were found to be remarkably active against the AIDS virus. A new class of HIV-1-inhibitory compounds, the sulfonic acid-containing glycolipids, was discovered through the use of the microculture assay to guide the fractionation and purification process. The pure compounds were active against HIV-1 in cultured human lymphoblastoid CEM, MT-2, LDV-7, and C3-44 cell lines in the tetrazolium assay as well as in p24 viral protein and syncytium formation assays.

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