Measles and Herpes: Plant extracts work against some viruses
Blueberries and blackberries are particularly healthy foods. They score with vitamins, minerals and fiber and can have a positive effect on cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, among other things. And extracts from these berries can help against certain viruses, researchers now report.
Blueberry and blackcurrant extracts in cell cultures prevent the cells from being infected by 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 Complementary Medicine and Therapies.
Immune boosting or even healing
According to a statement from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU), certain herbal extracts and natural substances have long been considered to strengthen the immune system or even promote healing in various diseases. This includes diseases caused by viruses.
But how can such connections be investigated? How can apply with the least possible effort drug candidates be identified for further testing?
For this purpose, researchers now use, among other things, screening methods that “in vitro“, i.e. outside a living organism, can make statements about desirable or undesirable effects on biological cells. Standardized cell cultures are used so that the results are comparable and reproducible.
Tests do not require animal testing
The scientists at the Fraunhofer Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC and at the Institute for Virology and Immunobiology at the JMU have a large number of viral infection systems available.
Here, 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 and will be standardized without animal testing out. Meaningful 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, enabling very close-to-patient infection studies with different viruses.
Analysis of the antiviral effect of plant extracts
As part of a research collaboration with the research and development innovation department of Evonik Operations GmbH, analyzes of the antiviral Effect of plant extracts exported. Basis were cell lines, which were established for investigations of defined viral infections.
“In the first step, we performed toxicity analyzes of the herbal drug candidates to determine whether and in which concentrations the substances are compatible with the cell cultures.”, explains dr. Maria Steinke, head of the project at the Fraunhofer Translational Center for Regenerative Therapies.
For the subsequent Efficiency tests only the substances and concentrations identified as cell compatible were used against viruses.
The study used herpes and measles viruses modified in such a way that infected cells fluoresce green. Substances that inhibit viral infection therefore lead to fewer cells underneath UV light glowed green. In this way, the number of infected cells in the cultures could be automated.
High content of anthocyanin pigments
In the antiviral experiments, the cell systems were treated with a total of nine drug candidates and the effect on the course of infection investigation.
The data collected by the researchers show that a mixture of blackcurrant and blueberry extracts with high levels of anthocyanin dyes (Healthberry® 865) and the corresponding individual extracts have in vitro antiviral properties against measles and herpes viruses.
“Together with Professor Bodem’s team, we have already carried out such efficiency tests for many companies, but very often the really hoped for effects can hardly be proven or not at all. Therefore, the recognizable antiviral effect of the substances in this study came almost as a surprise to us.”, according to dr. Stones.
The research groups also succeeded in identifying the active, antiviral components in the extracts. This is also for a real or ingredient development a necessary step. The data also show that the natural substances can complement conventional antiviral therapies.
Measles virus infection inhibited
“All in all, our study showed very interesting results about the effectiveness of plant extracts on viruses in vitro,” says Professor Bodem. “Because some of the substances investigated inhibit infection with measles viruses, but not the measles vaccine virus used for vaccination.”explains the expert.
“Vaccination would therefore be possible in addition to preventive treatment if it were possible to develop a therapeutic agent based on the plant’s ingredients. 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 human pathogenic virus strains gives reason to be confident that with the help of in vitro test methods new fields of application for active substances that have already been approved can be identified faster than before.
In the future, herbal extracts and active ingredients alone or in combination with common medicines may open new options in antiviral drugs therapies open. (advertisement)
Author and source information
This text conforms to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been reviewed by medical specialists.
- Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg: Plant extracts are effective against viruses, (access: 08/13/2022), Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
- Sivarajan, R., Oberwinkler, H., Roll, V. et al.: A defined anthocyanin mixture derived from cranberry and blackcurrant inhibits Measles virus and several herpes viruses; in: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, (veröffentlicht: 08.07.2022), BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.