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Scientists discover food that fights COVID-19 better than medicines

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A team of scientists has discovered that an extract from edible algae is capable of acting as bait to block and destroy the coronavirus. It also has a better effect than remdesivir, the main drug against COVID-19 used in the USA.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus must trap the spike protein in the ACE2 receptor on the surface of the human cell to penetrate the body, but it can be tricked by sending a similarly shaped molecule and upon contact, the virus will become trapped without the possibility of replicating and will naturally collapse.

The authors of the study, published in Cell Discovery, performed molecular modelling based on binding research and with the sequencing data of SARS-CoV-2 were able to identify areas of the virus’s spike protein with which heparin, an anticoagulant which is found in seaweed extract edible, could interact successfully.

In this way, they were able to test the antiviral activity of the organic substances extracted from the algae in three variants of heparin and two fucoidans. As a result, the effect of the algae extract significantly outweighed the drug remdesivir, and no cellular toxicity was recorded for any of the compounds even in high concentrations.

“It’s a very complicated mechanism that we quite frankly don’t know all the details about, but we’re getting more information, One thing that’s become clear with this study is that the larger the molecule, the better the fit. The more successful compounds are the larger sulfated polysaccharides that offer a greater number of sites on the molecules to trap the virus,” explained Jonathan Dordick, professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Rensseler Polytechnic Institute.

“What interests us is a new way of getting at infection. The current thinking is that the COVID-19 infection starts in the nose, and either of these substances could be the basis for a nasal spray. If you could simply treat the infection early, or even treat before you have the infection, you would have a way of blocking it before it enters the body,” said Robert Linhardt, co-author of the study.

The U.S. scientists have tested a similar method for neutralizing viruses such as dengue, Zika and influenza A, so this time they have worked together with Korean scientists to test this approach to COMBAT COVID-19.

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