An antiviral extracted from a plant known as ‘the deadly carrot’ could help in the fight against COVID, new research finds.
The antiviral, called Thapsigargin, is extracted from the Thapsia garganica plant.
The extract might significantly shift the way the coronavirus pandemic is manged.
Thapsigargin has a broad-spectrum antiviral effect, with the ability to block different types of viruses and be effective against a wide range of micro-organisms.
A new study reveals that thapsigargin treatment is extremely effective against the influenza A virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), common cold coronaviruses, and COVID-19
A variety of viruses can cause acute respiratory virus infections, but they are clinically identical.
The possibility of making a powerful broad-spectrum antiviral drug widely available would curb infection and prevent its spread.
When the research team looking for options they noticed that taking small amounts of thapsigargin generates a very effective innate immune antiviral responses against SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses.
The reasons that makes this plant-derived product a favourable antiviral are as follow:
- It isn’t broken down by stomach acid so it can be administered orally instead of by injection.
- If taken during early infection, it disrupts the virus which gives antibodies and cell-mediated immunity a chance to get ready.
- If exposed to a virus for 30 minutes, then the virus can’t reproduce itself for at least 48 hours.
- Several hundred times more powerful than other antiviral products.
- Viruses usually mutate to become resistant to a treatment, but this doesn’t work for thapsigargin.
- It blocks combined infection with flu and SARS-CoV-2 as effectively as infection with one virus.
- Thapsigargin is safe as it has been used for treating prostate cancer.
Professor Kin-Chow Chang, the study’s senior author, said:
“Whilst we are still at the early stages of research into this antiviral and its impact on how viruses such as COVID-19 can be treated, these findings are hugely significant.
The current pandemic highlights the need for effective antivirals to treat active infections, as well as vaccines, to prevent the infection.
Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal to human (zoonotic) and reverse zoonotic (human to animal) spread take place, a new generation of antivirals, such as thapsigargin, could play a key role in the control and treatment of important viral infections in both humans and animals.
Although more testing is clearly needed, current findings strongly indicate that thapsigargin and its derivatives are promising antiviral treatments against COVID-19 and influenza virus, and have the potential to defend us against the next Disease X pandemic.”
The study was published in the journal Viruses (Al-Beltagi et al., 2021).