A seaweed originally found near Japan could hold the key to solving the threat posed by Swine flu according to a group of Australian scientists.
Researchers from a private laboratory near Hobart, Marinova Laboratories, analyzed Japanese seaweed known as Undaria and found that it contains a compound that protects it from various marine viruses and toxins. On testing the compound on other viruses that are harmful for humans, the researchers found that it acted very strongly against H1N1 virus, sparking hopes of a cure should a pandemic occur in the near future.
According to lead researcher Dr Helen Fitton, the H1N1 virus utilizes receptors to invade the cells but using this compound stops the virus from using such receptors.
The CEO of the laboratory, Paul Garrott, hailed the breakthrough and said that it will spark immediate commercial interest in the compound. "This whole class of fucoidan compounds have been shown to have very profound antiviral activities against a range of influenza strains, against a range of other viruses and coated viruses - we mentioned HIV, we mentioned the herpes simplex virus", he added.