Scientists are exploring herbal treatment for COVID-19

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Credit: George Mason University

Could an over-the-counter health “shot” help fight COVID-19? Researchers at George Mason University think it may be.

Cell and bioscience recently highlighted an investigation led by Yuntao Wu and Ramin Hakami in which they examined the possible anti-coronavirus activities of an over-the-counter beverage called Respiratory Detox Shot (RDS).

RDS is a remedy that contains nine herbal ingredients that are traditionally used in oriental medicine to control lung disease. The researchers reported that RDS inhibited target cell infection by SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses and by wild-type SARS-CoV-2 infections. Their results suggest that RDS could widely inhibit respiratory viruses, such as the flu.

SARS-CoV is the viral pathogen that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and its sister virus, SARS-CoV-2, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19. The global COVID-19 pandemic is one of the main focuses of researchers around the world. Although effective vaccines have been developed, effective treatments still need to be developed. In particular, new variants of the virus are constantly emerging and some of these variants may make vaccines less effective.

Ramin Hakami, an associate professor at Mason’s School of Systems Biology and one of the study’s authors, said the fact that RDS is a potable food supplement is helpful.

“If it is shown to be effective in vivo, it should be a treatment for COVID-19 that is easy to administer,” said Hakami, who also works at Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. “That’s a big advantage.”

For their study, Hakami, Wu and Mason researchers Brian Hetrick, Adeyemi A. Olanrewaju, Linda D. Chillin, Sijia He and Deemah Debbagh worked with Dongyang Yu of Virongy LLC, Yuan-Chun Ma of Dr. Ma’s Laboratories Inc., and Lewis A. Hoffman of the World Health Sciences Organization.

The team examined extracts of approximately 40 medicinal herbs using a SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and human lung cells. They also examined the possible anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of RDS.

For the study, they pretreated cells with diluted RDS and then infected the cells in the presence of RDS for four to six hours. After infection, they cultured cells in the absence of RDS and then quantified the cells to determine if the viral infection was inhibited at 48 and 72 hours.

Subsequently, the researchers used the Biomedical Research Laboratory of the Mason Campus of Science and Technology to confirm the in vitro efficacy of RDS against infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study revealed that RDS contains very potent ingredients that can destroy the infectivity of SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus, even in very low doses, said Wu, a professor at the Center. Mason National Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. and a co-author of the study. In addition, researchers have shown that RDS is effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants in vitro.

Hetrick, a doctorate. bioscience student working in the study said the discovery came as a happy surprise to him. It would be great to have safe and effective herbal medicines available for the treatment of COVID-19 in the future.

Hakami is currently conducting in vivo animal studies to take advantage of the in vitro discovery that RDS can be used as a SARS-CoV-2 treatment. He is testing RDS using K18-hACE2 transgenic mice that will be infected with SARS-CoV-2. Depending on the results, Dejia Harmony, the sponsor of the previous preclinical trial, may request FDA approval to initiate clinical trials in humans.

“This study points to the possibility of using an easily available prescription herbal drink to provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A infections,” said Ali Andalibi, senior associate dean of Mason’s College. of Science. “It will also be quite interesting to see if RDS shows activity against other respiratory viruses.”


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More information:
Brian Hetrick et al, A traditional medicine, respiratory detox shot (RDS), inhibits the infection of SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus in vitro, Cell and bioscience (2021). DOI: 10.1186 / s13578-021-00609-1

Citation: Scientists explore herbal treatment for COVID-19 (2021, June 4) retrieved June 4, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-scientists-explore-herbal -treatment-covid-.html

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