A team of scientists from the University of Cambridge and other institutions have discovered a compound that could be effective in treating different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The compound is called piperlongumine (PL), which is derived from the long pepper, a natural ingredient used widely in Indian medical systems.
The researchers found that PL has a powerful antiviral effect in treating SARS-CoV-2 in mice.
In particular, they found that the compound delays the progression of the disease and reduces lung inflammation in a mouse model that mimics COVID-19 infection.
Previously, PL was studied as a potential treatment for cancer. Its action in the body is to induce a stress response in host cells, which makes it selective for infected cells.
This is advantageous because PL acts on the cells infected by the virus, rather than the virus itself.
As a result, it could be an effective treatment for future variants of SARS-CoV-2 or other viruses that may emerge in the future.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of PL treatment on mice infected with three different variants of SARS-CoV-2: alpha, delta, and omicron.
They found that the treatment was effective in reducing the amount of virus in all three variants.
To assess the potential of PL as a treatment for COVID-19, the researchers compared its effects to those of Plitidepsin, an antiviral that is already known to reduce viral load in SARS-CoV-2 infection.
They found that PL could be particularly relevant as an antiviral because it exerts its antiviral action by affecting the host cells, rather than the virus itself.
The discovery of PL as a potential treatment for COVID-19 is significant because it could help in the fight against future outbreaks of the disease.
With new variants of the virus emerging all the time, it’s important to find treatments that can be effective against a range of different strains.
The study on piperlongumine was conducted by Gonçalo Bernardes et al and published in ACS Central Science.
The researchers plan to continue studying the compound and its potential as a treatment for COVID-19 and other viral infections.
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