New therapy from bananas may help treat COVID-19

Credit: Mike Dorner/ Unsplash

In a study from Michigan Medicine, scientists found a therapy from bananas may help fight the COVID-19 virus.

On January 13, 2020, a paper touting the creation of a possible therapy that could be used to fight all known strains of the flu was published online.

Interestingly, prior to the arrival of the covid virus that temporarily shut down their work, the team behind the influenza paper had also investigated the therapy of coronaviruses.

In the current study, the team reported the efficacy of H84T-BanLec against all known human-infecting coronaviruses, including MERS, the original SARS, and SARS-CoV2, including the omicron variant.

H84T-BanLec is derived from a lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein) isolated from banana fruit.

It accomplishes its remarkable viral-blocking abilities by binding to high-mannose glycans, polysaccharides that are present on the surface of the viruses, but only very rarely on normal healthy human cells.

After binding, the virus cannot enter cells to infect them.

The team confirmed that H84T develops multiple strong bonds with the spike protein, which, said Markovitz, probably explains why it’s hard for a coronavirus to be resistant to the lectin.

Despite their anti-viral potential, lectins have traditionally been avoided as possible therapies because they are proteins that can stimulate the immune system in a potentially harmful way, explains Markovitz.

However, H84T-BanLec has been modified to remove this effect and showed no detrimental effects in the animal models.

The team says while several treatments for COVID-19 currently exist, including remdesivir, Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies, they have varied levels of effectiveness, side effects and ease of use and many have proven less effective as SARS-CoV2 continues to evolve.

H84T-BanLec holds unique promise because it is effective against all coronavirus variants as well as influenza viruses.

The team hopes to see the therapy take the more difficult step from animal model to testing in humans.

The team envisions a nasal spray or drops that can be used to prevent or treat coronavirus and influenza infections in seasonal and pandemic situations.

They also hope to examine using H84T-BanLec against cancer—as cancer cells, like viruses, also have high mannose glycans on their surfaces.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about a universal antibody therapy to fight all COVID-19 variants, and Vitamin D level could predict severity of COVID-19.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about people who are 5 times more likely to get COVID-19, and this face mask can capture and deactivate COVID-19 virus.

The study was conducted by David Markovitz et al and published in Cell Reports Medicine.

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