Of all the discoveries and breakthroughs around COVID-19 (and there’s been so much to follow), one particular study caught our attention. Researchers recently conducted a study that demonstrated promising results with a specific seaweed extract as a preventative measure against the disease. Even the World Health Organization recognized the potential of seaweed as a prophylactic or therapeutic solution as being noteworthy.
Though we’re familiar with the uses of seaweed as an antiviral agent, this exciting finding left us wanting to know more. So here’s what we found out about the uses of seaweed extract against COVID-19.
Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
In the study conducted by the Center of Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, scientists were exploring alternatives to remdesivir. They were curious to see if any of five specific sulfated polysaccharides (two fucoidans found in natural seaweed and three variants of heparin) could outperform the Ebola antiviral medication against SARS-CoV-2.
The idea was to see if these compounds could work as a decoy, the way remdesivir does to trap and neutralize the virus. When the spiky proteins on SARS-CoV-2 latch onto the appropriate human cell receptors, they can insert their DNA into the host and hijack the cell functionality for their own replication. Researchers were hopeful that the structure of these polysaccharides was close enough to human cells to stop the spread of the virus.
The tests showed that one of the fucoidans (RPI-27) had real potential as an alternative therapeutic. In the dose response study conducted by CBIS, RPI-27 inhibited viral infectivity with greater potency than remdesivir and also produced no cellular toxicity – even when the highest concentrations of the fucoidan were tested.
A Quick Turnaround for Drug Trials
Unlike other breakthroughs, identifying the potency of this seaweed extract against COVID-19 has fewer barriers to doing real world good. Promising vaccines will need to go through trials (even though some countries are cutting corners and taking hefty risks) and even most treatments need to still be verified for their safe usage as a COVID-19 treatment. RPI-27 is different.
This specific fucoidan, when taken orally, is already considered as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) from the USDA. This means that there will be fewer hurdles to jump through to get this approved for widespread usage. Combined with the studies showing how a seaweed diet and heart disease cases had an inverse effect, there may be potential to prevent some of the worst effects of COVID-19.
Moreover, the species of natural seaweed that produces RPI-27 is found widely throughout the Pacific Rim and even the coastal waters of France. As researchers expand their study of the antiviral properties of brown seaweed, which is found throughout coastal Atlantic waters. There may even be opportunities to expand the alternative therapeutic options for COVID-19 treatment.
So if pharmaceutical companies are courageous enough to try seaweed extract as a COVID-19 treatment, there’s enough of this natural resource in the supply chain. All you need to do is reach out to the right seaweed company.
Do you want to learn more about the uses of seaweed?