Wellington: Researchers have suggested that a tree bark that is used in Samoa to make medicinal tea, could help treat AIDS.
Dr Paul Wender of Stanford University has said that an AIDS medicine made from Samoa's mamala tree could be available in the next 18 - 24 months.
Wender and others, which includes AIDS researchers Paul Cox and Stephen Brown, heard about mamala 's use as a remedy for viral hepatitis in Falealupo at the most western point of Samoa.
The bark was analysed by The US National Cancer Institute and prostratin was identified as a key ingredient and after 25 years of dedicated work, Wender has been able to synthesise prostratin, enabling the latest breakthrough.
Wender said that they have made synthetic variants of prostratin, called analogues, which is 100 times more potent than the natural product.
The new versions of prostratin show promise in laboratory tests for both preventing HIV from infecting human cells and awakening dormant HIV viruses that are hiding inside human latently infected cells.
Wender told Healthline that initial testing AIDS patients.