Seaweed extract stops COVID in early tests – Community News

Seaweed extract stops COVID in early tests

December 6, 2021 — A type of marine algae known as ulva, or “sea lettuce,” which is a staple of the diet in places like Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii, may have another benefit for humans. Lab experiments suggest that ulvan, an extract of this type of algae, may help fight COVID-19.

Other forms of edible seaweed have also shown promise as antivirals against COVID – at least in very early studies conducted in test tubes and animals. But ulvan has also been tested as an antiviral treatment against certain agricultural and human viruses. This left researchers wondering if ulvan could help prevent COVID infections.

To find out, scientists cultured ulva algae in a lab, extracted ulvan, and then exposed cells in test tubes to both the coronavirus and ulvan. When cells were exposed to ulvan, they did not become infected with the coronavirus, according to the results of experiments reported inPeerJ.

In test tubes

That said, it’s possible that the process used to extract ulvan from seaweed could affect its antiviral properties. Researchers compared two extraction methods and found that one of them resulted in ulvan with more than 10 times the virus-fighting power. This suggests that more research is needed to refine the best method of developing ulvan with the best antiviral properties, the researchers point out.

One limitation of the experiment is that differences in the chemical makeup of the two extracts may have affected the outcome, making it difficult to know for sure how much of the antiviral activity may come directly from ulvan as opposed to these chemicals.

And even if the seaweed extract proves to be effective in more lab tests, it should still be tested on animals and humans. But should it prove effective in human trials, seaweed extract has the potential to help prevent COVID infection in people who cannot readily afford or cannot access vaccines, particularly in low-income countries, the authors conclude. of the research.