Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen recently conducted a study that shows extracts from Cistus incanus (Ci), a medicinal plant, may be able to protect cells from being infected with HIV.
The extract’s active antiviral ingredients may make it a key to stopping viral proteins from binding to cells.
"Antiviral ingredients of Ci extracts target viral envelope proteins on infectious particles and prevent them from contacting host cells," Ruth Brack-Werner, a professor at the Institute for Virology of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, said.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, demonstrates that the extract’s antiviral activity can specifically target Marburg and Ebola viruses in addition to HIV infections.
Using Cistus incanus extracts in cultured cells showed that Ebola and HIV were not able to multiply within the cultures. In addition, the team did not find any viruses that were resistant to the extract within the 24-week study.
"Since antiviral activity of Ci extracts differs from all clinically approved drugs, Ci-derived products could be an important complementation to current established drug regimens," Brack-Werner said.
Viral infections are included in the 10 top causes of death around the world, making it a significant global health concern. Controlling viruses means continually creating new, strong therapeutic or antiviral drug options. This is time-consuming and expensive.
The scientists hope their discovery can change how drugs are created.