Algae may harbour SARS cure

Published: Thursday, May 21, 2009, 12:54 [IST]
 

Washington, May 21 (ANI): A protein from algae might help in treating Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infections, suggests a new study.

Researchers from University of Iowa have found that mice treated with the protein, Griffithsin (GRFT), had a 100 percent survival rate after exposure to the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), as compared to a 30 percent survival for untreated mice.

GRFT is believed to exert its anti-viral effects by altering the shape of the sugar molecules that line the virus' envelope, allowing it to attach to and invade human cells, where it takes over the cells' reproductive machinery to replicate itself.

Without that crucial ability, the virus is unable to cause disease.

"While preliminary, these results are very exciting and indicate a possible therapeutic approach to future SARS or other coronaviral outbreaks," said Christine Wohlford-Lenane, senior research assistant at the department of pediatrics University of Iowa and the lead author of the study.

GRFT not only stop the virus from replicating, but also prevented secondary outcomes, such as weight loss, that are associated with infection.

"We are planning future studies to investigate prophylaxis, versus treatment interventions with GRFT, in the SARS mouse model in collaboration with Barry O'Keefe at the National Cancer Institute," she said.

"In addition, we want to learn whether mice protected from SARS by GRFT develop protective immunity against future infection," she added.

The research was presented at the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego. (ANI)


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