COVID-19: Seaweed extract may be more effective than remdesivir


ISLAMABAD, July 30 (online): New research concludes that extracts from seaweed could be more effective than remdesivir, the current leading SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drug.

The authors  research  lays the groundwork for future studies to corroborate the findings in humans.

SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, reproduces by attaching to a host cell’s membrane, inserting its genetic material and using the cell’s resources to create replica viruses. In this way, it can spread throughout a person’s body.

One way to inhibit the spread of this virus between people is through handwashing. While it removes contaminated material, soap can also damage the outer envelope of a SARS-CoV-2 particle, which stops it from latching on to other cells.

Antiviral drugs that target SARS-CoV-2 often work differently. Rather than damaging the virus’s outer membrane, they bind with the component that attaches to the host’s cells. When this occurs, the virus is disarmed and cannot infect cells to replicate itself. This is how the current leading SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drug remdesivir works.

However, this manner of combating viruses leaves room for improvement. “we’re learning how to block viral infection, and that is knowledge we will need if we want to confront pandemics rapidly.”

Heparin is a common blood thinner that can be extracted from seaweed. The present study looked at three variants of heparin and two related fucoidans — a substance that can be obtained from brown seaweed  to see how effective they would be as decoys for SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting.

The researchers applied the extracts to mammalian cells and measured enough for each one to reduce the effectiveness of the virus by 50%.

The researchers found that one of the fucoidans and two of the heparin extracts required a significantly lower concentration than remdesivir to reduce the virus’s effectiveness to 50%.

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