Although the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a global emergency, it has not yet disappeared. In addition, sooner or later, humanity will once again face a new viral threat, which is why scientists continue to search for antivirals against all kinds of viruses and coronaviruses.
Now, the Neurovirology Laboratory of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) has discovered a natural polymer with a potent antiviral effect in vivo against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research, whose details are published in Frontiers in Microbiology, was carried out by scientists from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology (CBMSO), the Autonomous University of Barcelona. University of Lleida and the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB).
For decades, several anionic polymers have been known to have an in vitro antiviral effect against enveloped viruses, such as those causing AIDS or herpes.
However, the difficulty of getting these substances to infected areas without degradation led to a decline in research into this type of polymer as an antiviral.
The team, led by UAM’s José Antonio López Guerrero and Raquel Bello-Morales, hypothesized that, if inhaled, these polymers might reach lung tissue and prevent virus entry into lung cells .
They believe that dextran sulfate may also be effective against other respiratory viruses such as influenza.
The authors supported their hypothesis in tests on mice at the CBMSO animal facility’s Level 3 Biosafety Laboratory, where they used a polymer (dextran sulfate) produced by the lactic bacterium Leuconostoc mesenteroides to inhibit infection of mice infected with the coronavirus. .
In addition, the researchers believe it is likely that dextran sulfate may also be effective against other respiratory viruses, such as influenza or respiratory syncytial virus, the authors suggest.
In fact, the study proved the polymers’ antiviral efficacy not only against coronaviruses, but also against other enveloped viruses, although it remains to be verified whether these substances are safe and effective in humans, the research team said. is planning to do. Long Term.
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