We are all familiar with the red and green tops on glass containers filled with the salty goodness called soy sauce. But what if we told you that soy sauce not only treated boring rice, but could also help treat HIV? Would you think it was a lie?


New research from Japan tells us that soy sauce may hold the key to more effective treatments of HIV.


In 1988, after becoming aware of the potential medical benefits found in soy sauce, the CEO of Yamasa hired a group of food scientists to study the potential effects of soy sauce on the immune system.


In 2001, there was a discovery made: a certain flavoring compound found in soy sauce had a similar chemical make-up of a drug used in HIV treatments.


As the research began taking off, scientists started testing this new molecule on monkeys, according to Decoding Science.


“These animals were so lethargic, so ill, that they were scheduled to be euthanized when EFdA was administered. Within a month they were bouncing around in their cages, looking very happy and their virus load dropped to undetectable levels. That shows you the activity of the molecule; it’s so active that resistance doesn’t come in as much of a factor with it,”


A few weeks ago, virologists at the University of Missouri reported that the flavor agent EFdA not only has the same effect as one of the most commonly used HIV drugs, but it’s also 70 times more potent.


This potency is an incredible find because the problem with most HIV treatments is that patients develop a resistance to the drugs, and therefore, have to move on to stronger drugs. However, with EFdA, the potency is less likely to create a resistance because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body.


Dr. Stefan Sarafianos, author of this study, is currently working with pharmaceutical company Merck to perfect and distribute a series of anti-HIV drugs based on EFdA, some of which have already been approved for treatment.


EFdA is actually a chemical that was used as a flavor enhancer for soy sauce. It is ironic that a chemical, typically thought to always be bad (mostly due to its high sodium content), might potentially treat HIV. It makes one wonder what other chemicals we should be looking at in a different light.


What do you think of this new discovery? What do you think this means for the future of HIV treatments? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @kateeb790!