Plant chemical compounds that shield plants from invaders appear to strike a powerful blow to sars-CoV-2’s propagation capacity. See what foods and beverages researchers are experimenting with…
The chemical compounds of certain foods can effectively block a key enzyme of SARS-CoV-2.
Chemical compounds in foods and beverages such as green tea, round grapes and dark chocolate can bind to and inhibit the function of a specific SARS-CoV-2 enzyme or protease, according to new research by botanical biologists at the University of North Carolina.
Proteases or proteinases are important for the health and viability of cells and viruses, explains DEYU XIE, De-Yu Xie professor of plant and microbial biology at the State University of North Carolina and co-author of the current study. Blocking proteases means that cells cannot perform many important functions as cell replication and self-replication.
“One of our lab’s focuses is to find nutraceuticals in food or medicinal plants that inhibit either how a virus attaches to human cells or the propagation of a virus in human cells”explains Professor Xie.
In the study, researchers performed computer simulations and laboratory experiments showing how the so-called “main protease” (Mpro) in the SARS-CoV-2 virus reacted when exposed to a number of different phytochemicals already known for their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
It is noted that Mpro in SARS-CoV-2 virus is necessary for the reproduction and multiplication of the virus. As Professor Xie explains, blocking or inactivating the Mpro will lead to the destruction of SARS-CoV-2.
Computer model simulations showed that already studied chemicals from green tea, two grape varieties, cocoa powder and dark chocolate could be attached to different parts of the Mpro.
“Mpro has a portion that is like a ‘pocket’ that was ‘filled’ by the chemical compounds,” explains Professor Xie, adding that “When this pocket was filled, the protease lost its important function.”
These first observations were confirmed in vitro lab experiments. In fact, it seemed that the action of the plant chemical compound of green tea and grapes was twice as strong as that of cocoa and dark chocolate.
The researchers explain that active plant chemical components are part of plant defenses, so it is not surprising that most of them are found in seeds and plant leaves.