Scientists have revealed a high antiviral effect in plants

Researchers from the TSU Laboratory of Phytochemistry of Medicinal Plants and the Laboratory for the Development and Testing of Pharmacological Agents of the Federal Research Center for Fundamental and Translational Medicine have revealed a high antiviral effect in four extracts of medicinal plants grown at the TSU Siberian Botanical Garden. The extracts were first tested on H1N1 flu strains that caused pandemics in 1918 (Spanish flu) and 2009 (swine flu). The research results can serve as a basis for the creation of phytopreparations with high antiviral activity.

According to their research, extracts of Rhodiola rosea, Hedysarum alpinum, Silene graefferi , and Lychnis chalcedonica showed a high ability to suppress the pathogen.

- Now, in the period of the next pandemic, it becomes clear how important it is to have effective drugs, - says Larisa Zibareva, head of the TSU Laboratory of Phytochemistry of Medicinal Plants. - Traditional medicine uses mainly preparations based on active substances obtained by synthetic means. At the same time, some biologically active substances (BAS) contained in plants also have high antiviral activity. They are very promising for creating highly effective drugs, but at the same time, with less toxicity and fewer side effects.    

The assessment of the antiviral activity of plants from TSU Siberian Botanical Garden was carried out on cell culture (in vitro) using the influenza virus A (H1N1) pdm09 strain A / Tomsk / 273-MA1 / 2010 (H1N1pdm09), which twice in the past 100 years led to a pandemic and annually causes new cases of diseases of varying severity.

Cell cultures with a daily monolayer of MDCK cells were treated with aqueous extracts of medicinal plants, then a virus-containing liquid prepared on a supporting nutrient medium was introduced. After a certain time, scientists assessed the viability of cells that were in contact with the extract and the virus and cell cultures from the control group (not treated with the extract). 

The selectivity index of extracts (the degree of effect on the virus) of medicinal plants from the TSU Botanical Garden had high values (12-403), while according to WHO recommendations, this indicator for extracts with a pronounced antiviral effect should be at least 8.

It was found that the Hedysarum alpinum has the most pronounced antiviral effect, and the extract from the Lychnis chalcedonica has the greatest cytotoxicity on the MDCK cell culture.

-The scientific community is aware of medicinal plants exhibiting antiviral activity against the H1N1 virus and other viruses, however, this activity has now been detected for the first time in species successfully introduced in the Siberian Botanical Garden,- explains Larisa Zibareva. - So far, preclinical studies are at an early stage. The identification of active substances/complexes and further stages from extract to preparation are still pending. But the very fact of determining the high antiviral activity of these medicinal plants, for which the cultivation technology has been developed and the composition of the chemical components of plants is being studied, is important groundwork for the creation of new effective drugs against the H1N1 influenza virus.