Seaweed can provide antivirals to combat Covid-19, according to a joint investigation carried out by the
University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the Wistar Institute of Philadelphia (USA).
Eduardo Caro , assistant professor of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and director of the project on the island, told Efe on Tuesday that algae could be a response against the coronavirus.
“Algae can be an answer to this pandemic, since they have contributed to solving other problems such as cancer,” says Caro. Also in
Spain there are investigations in this regard. Specifically, a collaboration between Algas Atlánticas Algamar and Conservas Mar de Ardora and the University of Vigo is developing R&D approaches that make it possible to take advantage of the potential of algae as food and produce “highly functional nutraceuticals”.
Blue-green algae produce natural substances that inhibit specific mechanisms of infectious diseases and recent reports have described the susceptibility of the
coronavirus to be inhibited by chemical compounds derived from seaweed, says Caro. “Algae provide many solutions and this research represents an opportunity,” he highlights.
The Puerto Rican project directs its efforts to the discovery of natural products derived from seaweed and other organisms from the sea of Puerto Rico that serve to discover and develop antiviral agents for the treatment of
Covid-19 . An idea emerged in confinement
To do this, the team he leads collaborates with the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, an institution located in the university city of that American city specialized in biomedical science, oncology, immunology and vaccine research.
Caro explained that during the confinement he had the opportunity to read extensive scientific material, among which he was interested in research that pointed out that elements present in seaweed could function as inhibitors of the
This information helped him to contact a scientist from the Wistar Institute in order to launch an investigation that is already underway and that has a period of one year to present itself.
The study is based on the fact that seaweeds, and specifically those from Puerto Rico, may have inhibitors against the
coronavirus , which means that, in the long term, drugs against the disease could be developed.
The ongoing study has divided the tasks, so that in Puerto Rico the team headed by Caro is in charge of collecting the algae and conducting the chemical analysis. The Wistar Institute, for its part, deals with the biomolecular part and determining which components of algae may have inhibitors against
Covid-19 . A development of years
“The study would reach a preclinical phase”, emphasizes Caro about the research, after clarifying that once it has been determined that there are inhibitors in seaweed, the process has not ended, but another opens in which one enters the part of design of the drug, which can take years.
“The objective is to find a compound that has efficacy in infected cells in the lungs,” he indicates, after ensuring that there are many drugs derived from marine components that have shown their efficacy.
For this study, up to 50 types of algae and other marine spices have been collected that are believed to contain compounds that can act as inhibitors against
The study may be of help to the island, where the disease is still expanding and the
Department of Health has reported nine deaths, 233 confirmed positive cases and 225 additional probable cases on Tuesday.
Since the pandemic began, confirmed cases in Puerto Rico have totaled 18,206 and deaths, 551.