Soy Sauce May Contain Secret Ingredient to Fighting HIV

According to a team of virologists at the University of Missouri, a molecule found in soy sauce — called EFdA — is apparently 10 times more effective and powerful than drugs like Tenofovir, which is often used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Who knew that a condiment used to add flavor to sushi and other Asian foods would hold such potential?

This news comes more than a decade after Japanese soy sauce manufacturer Yamasa claimed to have discovered a secret molecule that could possibly be used to fight the virus.

“Patients who are treated for HIV infections with Tenofovir, eventually develop resistance to the drugs that prevent an effective or successful defense against the virus,” said Stefan Sarafianos, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine, and a virologist at the Bond Life Sciences Center. EFdA, the molecule we are studying, is less likely to cause resistance in HIV patients because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body as similar existing drugs.”

Both EFdA and Tenofovir belong to a group of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). What the reverse transcriptase compound does is help build new DNA in the HIV virus, allowing it to replicate.

Sarafianos and his team’s compounds are currently being tested by New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. for their ability to stop HIV in its tracks.