BMC Infect Dis. 2004; 4: 41. Published online 2004 October 14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-4-41. PMCID: PMC533885 Copyright 2004 Neurath et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Punica granatum (Pomegranate) juice provides an HIV-1 entry inhibitor and candidate topical microbicide Background For ≈ 24 years the AIDS pandemic has claimed ≈ 30 million lives, causing ≈ 14,000 new HIV-1 infections daily worldwide in 2003. About 80% of infections occur by heterosexual transmission. In the absence of vaccines, topical microbicides, expected to block virus transmission, offer hope for controlling the pandemic. Antiretroviral chemotherapeutics have decreased AIDS mortality in industrialized countries, but only minimally in developing countries. To prevent an analogous dichotomy, microbicides should be: acceptable; accessible; affordable; and accelerative in transition from development to marketing. Already marketed pharmaceutical excipients or foods, with established safety records and adequate anti-HIV-1 activity, may provide this option. Methods Fruit juices were screened for inhibitory activity against HIV-1 IIIB using CD4 and CXCR4 as cell receptors. The best juice was tested for inhibition of: (1) infection by HIV-1 BaL, utilizing CCR5 as the cellular coreceptor; and (2) binding of gp120 IIIB and gp120 BaL, respectively, to CXCR4 and CCR5. To remove most colored juice components, the adsorption of the effective ingredient(s) to dispersible excipients and other foods was investigated. A selected complex was assayed for inhibition of infection by primary HIV-1 isolates. Results HIV-1 entry inhibitors from pomegranate juice adsorb onto corn starch. The resulting complex blocks virus binding to CD4 and CXCR4/CCR5 and inhibits infection by primary virus clades A to G and group O. Conclusion These results suggest the possibility of producing an anti-HIV-1 microbicide from inexpensive, widely available sources, whose safety has been established throughout centuries, provided that its quality is adequately standardized and monitored.