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Evidence suggests Wormwood extract is effective against coronavirus

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Despite the growing availability of vaccines against the coronavirus (COVID-19), we continue to lack effective and cheap therapies.

There have been many efforts to repurpose medicines that we currently use for a variety of other purposes, but none have been successful.

This new study, led by Dr Yuyong Zhou of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and Dr Kerry Gilmore of the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Germany, sought to determine whether Artemisia annua extracts, as well as pure artemisinin, artesunate, and artemether, are active against SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory.

Artemisinin is a bioactive compound used to treat malaria and viral infections.

Artemisinin-based medicines seem to be an appealing repurposing drug option for COVID-19 due to their outstanding safety profiles in humans as well as their potential for global distribution at relatively cheap prices.

However, although artemisinin, its derivatives, and plant extracts have been shown to have antiviral activity against various viral families, it is unclear if they would be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 owing to their enigmatic methods of action.

To find out, researchers used the German SARS-CoV-2 strain from Munich and the Danish strain from Copenhagen as model viruses, and one of the cell lines represented a certain type of lung cells most vulnerable to coronavirus infection – lung cancer cells A549-hACE2, which possess the ACE2 angiotensin-converting enzyme, which the coronavirus uses to penetrate the cells of the human body.

The results pleased scientists and showed that all four compounds are capable of suppressing the virus even in the lungs.

Based on the results of the work, scientists made a kind of rating of the most effective substances:

  1. artesunate
  2. artemether
  3. Artemisia annua extract
  4. artemisinin

However, scientists note that wormwood substances can only help immediately after the virus enters the body, and not serve as its prevention.

In our study, we confirm the efficacy of artemisinin-based treatment for two European SARS-CoV-2 strains from Germany and Denmark, which are more closely related to the majority of SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating worldwide than the Wuhan strain

emphasize study authors in this manuscript published in the Scientific Reports journal.
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