Measles and herpes: plant extracts act against certain viruses
Blueberries and blackcurrants are particularly healthy foods. They score points with vitamins, minerals and fiber and can have a positive effect on cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, among others. And extracts from these berries may help fight certain viruses, researchers now report.
Bilberry and black currant extracts in cell cultures prevent cells from being infected with measles and herpes viruses. A team of scientists from Würzburg was very surprised by these research results. The new findings were published in the journal “BMC Medicine and Complementary Therapies“published.
Immune strengthening or even healing
Love it in one Message from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU), certain plant extracts and natural substances have long been considered to stimulate the immune system or even promote the healing of various diseases. These include diseases caused by viruses.
But how to examine such connections? How to take ownership with the least amount of effort drug candidates be identified for further testing?
To this end, researchers are now using, among other things, screening methods that “in vitro“, that is, outside of a living organism, can make statements about desired or undesired effects on biological cells. Standardized cell cultures are used so that results are comparable and reproducible.
The tests do not require animal testing
Scientists from the Fraunhofer Translation Center for Regenerative Therapies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC and the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology at JMU have a large number of viruses infection systems to elimination.
Here the cells are infected with different viruses and then it is analyzed whether certain substances inhibit the replication of the virus. According to the information, these tests can be standardized and arrive no animal testing out. Significant results can be achieved quickly this way.
The collaboration between the two research groups led to the development of 3D Cell Culture Infection Models led, which allow infection studies very close to the patient with different viruses.
Analysis of the antiviral effect of plant extracts
As part of a research cooperation with the Research & Development Innovation department of Evonik Operations GmbH, analyzes of the antiviral Effect of plant extracts carried out. The basis was cell lines, which are established for investigations of defined viral infections.
“In a first step, we performed toxicity analyzes of the plant-based drug candidates to determine whether and at what concentrations the substances are compatible with cell cultures”explains Dr. Maria Steinke, project manager at the Fraunhofer Translation Center for Regenerative Therapies.
For more Efficiency tests only substances and concentrations identified as compatible with cells were used against viruses.
The study used herpes and measles viruses modified so that infected cells fluoresce green. Substances that inhibit viral infection therefore lead to fewer cells under uv light glowed green. In this way, the number of infected cells in cultures could be automated.
High content of anthocyanin pigments
In antiviral experiments, cellular systems were treated with a total of nine drug candidates and the effect on the course of infection examined.
The data collected by the researchers shows that a mixture of blackcurrant and blueberry extracts with a high anthocyanin dyes (Healthberry® 865) and the corresponding individual extracts have in vitro antiviral properties against measles and herpes viruses.
“Together with Prof. Bodem’s team, we have already carried out such efficacy tests for many companies, but very often the actually hoped-for effects can hardly or not at all be proven. Therefore, the recognizable antiviral effect of substances in this study almost surprised us.”according to Dr. Steinke.
The research groups have also managed to identify the active antiviral components in the extracts. It is also for a real or ingredient development an essential step. The data also shows that natural substances can complement conventional antiviral therapies.
Measles virus infection inhibited
“Overall, our study showed very interesting results on the efficacy of plant extracts on viruses in vitro,” says Professor Bodem. “Because some of the substances studied inhibit infection by measles viruses, but not the measles vaccine virus used for vaccination”explains the expert.
“Thus, vaccination would be possible as a supplement to preventive treatment if it were possible to develop a therapeutic agent based on the constituents of the plant. By identifying the active ingredients in the extracts, we have taken a first step in this direction.
The results on the effectiveness of phytonutrients against viral strains pathogenic for humans give reason to believe that with the help of in vitro test methods, new fields of application for active substances already approved can be identified more quickly than before.
In the future, plant extracts and active ingredients alone or in combination with common drugs could open up new options in antivirals therapies open. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
- Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg: Plant extracts are effective against viruses, (consulted on: 08/13/2022), Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
- Sivarajan, R., Oberwinkler, H., Roll, V. et al. : A defined mixture of anthocyanins from bilberry and blackcurrant inhibits measles virus and various herpes viruses; in: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, (published on: 07/08/2022), BMC Medicine and Complementary Therapies
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.
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