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Seaweed medication against virus

Date: 26 July 2020 Tags: Reports & Indices


In a study in mammalian cells, an extract from edible seaweeds was found to outperform remdesivir, in effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19.



Heparin, a common blood thinner, and a heparin variant stripped of its anticoagulant properties, performed on par with remdesivir in inhibiting the virus.



  • The spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 latches onto the ACE-2 receptor on the surface of human cells. But in the study, the virus could be persuaded to lock onto a decoy molecule that offers a similar fit.

  • The neutralised virus would be trapped and eventually degrade naturally. Previous research has shown this decoy technique works in trapping other viruses, including dengue.

  • The new research tested antiviral activity in three variants of heparin (heparin, trisulfated heparin, and a non-anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin) and two extracts (RPI-27 and RPI-28) from seaweed.

  • With each compound, the researchers performed a dose-response study on mammalian cells. They compared a value called EC50 (a lower value signals a more potent compound).

  • RPI-27 yielded an EC50 value of about 83 nanomolar, while a similar previous test of remdesivir on the same mammalian cells yielded an EC50 of 770 nanomolar (RPI-27 was, therefore, more potent).

  • Heparin yielded an EC50 2.1 micromolar or about one-third as active as remdesivir, and a non-anticoagulant analogue of heparin yielded an EC50 of 5.0 micromolar, about one-fifth as active as remdesivir.

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