15th of March, 2022 – AsianScientist – According to a recent research published in Virology, an extract from the bark of a neem tree exhibits antiviral properties against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The researchers from India and the United States expect that their results may aid in the development of new treatments to reduce the risk of serious disease and stop the spread of coronavirus infections.
The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) is an Indian mahogany with large leaves. Numerous components of the tree have been claimed to have therapeutic benefits against various viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Laboratory investigations have indicated that extracts obtained from the bark are effective against malaria, stomach and intestinal ulcers, and skin problems.
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata and the University of Colorado in the United States studied if neem extracts may help decrease COVID-19 infections in the same way that bark extracts had in the past. The researchers used a variety of approaches to investigate the extract’s anti-coronavirus properties in depth.
The researchers discovered that the neem bark extract can target a wide spectrum of viral proteins using computer modelling. Certain components can attach to different parts of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which allows the virus to enter human cells. The spike protein is stabilised by neem chemicals, which essentially function as a block on crucial areas that normally attach to the host cell.
Because the virus can no longer hook onto host cells, it is unable to access the host’s genetic machinery, which is required for reproduction. The virus’s reproduction is usually linked to the course and severity of the condition, and it can even move to other cells and organs in the body. As a result, shutting off this entry site can prevent SARS-CoV-2 from wreaking havoc on the body.
The bark extracts were applied to samples of human lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. They discovered that the extracts reduced the expression of genes that code for the viral envelope, which impeded viral infection and replication in the cells.
The extract also alleviated additional COVID-19 consequences, including as inflammation in the brain and hepatitis in mouse models, by inhibiting entrance and lowering viral replication.
Overall, the neem compounds showed promise as antiviral medicines, both in terms of preventing infection and reducing the severity of illness following infection. Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that the extract’s multi-targeted effects—particularly its ability to bind to several spike regions—could make it effective against novel variants with spike protein mutations.
“The antiviral properties of neem bark extract offer a new premise for restricting viral spread, replication and fusion. Our studies can guide new antiviral therapeutic efforts to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and hold promise for treating the future emergence of new coronavirus strains,” the authors wrote.