Heparin is an anticoagulant whose molecules are extracted from algae. Researchers have found that it is a more effective antiviral against Covid-19 than the treatment currently in use.
Three variants of heparin were tested in this research conducted in mammalian cells, as well as two fucoidans. All of these materials were extracted from algae. The authors of this study are scientists from the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselear Polytechnic (USA). They published their results in the scientific journal Cell Discovery.
Higher efficacy than remdesivir
The team performed a test called EC50 to determine the effectiveness of these molecules. The lower the result obtained, the more effective the product. Remdesivir, used to treat Ebola patients, is one of the main avenues of treatment against Covid-19 today. It obtained a score of 770 nanomolar in the EC50 test. RPI-27, one of the molecules from algae, gave a value of about 83 nanomolar, heparin showed even greater efficacy with a score of 2.1. No toxicity was observed for these products.
A future nasal spray?
These molecules could make it possible to create new treatments against Covid-19, with different modes of administration. “Current research indicates that the Covid-19 infection starts in the nose, and all of these substances could be a basis for creating a nasal spray,” says Jonathan Dordick, professor of chemical and biological engineering and lead author of the study. If we could just treat the infection when it starts, or even treat it before you get it, we might have a way to block it before it gets into the body. “
A complex mechanism
SARS-CoV-2 has a protein that attaches itself to human molecules and then inserts its genetic material into them. This then allows it to replicate in the body. The heparin-based medicine tricks the virus into attracting and blocking it. “It is a very complicated mechanism, of which we do not know all the details, says the researcher, but we are getting more and more information.” Across the world, dozens and dozens of researchers are working on treatment trials to fight the virus. More than 16 million people have contracted it on the planet.
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