Aster koraiensis and deodeok [Source : IBS]
Scientists in South Korea have found that some commonly used local foods or herbal medicines contain ingredients that prevent the Covid-19 virus from entering and infecting human cells.
The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) said on Wednesday its research team led by Dr. Lee Chang-jun, Head of Life Science Research Cluster, demonstrated that lancemaside A, a major triterpenoid saponin from Codonopsis lanceolata, and astersaponin I from Aster koraiensis inhibit an infection of SARS-CoV-2.
The Covid-19 virus enters human cells through membrane fusion between the viral membrane and the host cell membrane. But the Dr. Lee’s team found that the natural ingredients block this fusion, inhibiting all infection routes of the virus and syncytium formation. Infection was suppressed to almost the same level not only for SARS-CoV-2, but also for its variants like Omicron, according to the research team.
Lancemaside A and astersaponin I have a long sugar chain structure very similar to cholesterol, which is a major component of cell membranes. Human cell membranes accept the chain’s central part, while leaving the long chain part protruded out of the cell membrane, which blocks the membrane fusion between the coronavirus and human cells.
Earlier, the research team jointly with an Institut Pasteur Korea team found that Platycodin D, a natural component of Platycodon grandiflorum, has activity against Covid-19.
Codonopsis lanceolata known as deodeok in Korean, Aster koraiensis and ginseng products expose the upper respiratory epithelial cell to high concentrations of their ingredients and the pharmacological action of these ingredients may be effective in asymptomatic or early-stage patients, said Dr. Lee.
Most of the conducted studies are at in vitro stage, but the research team expects to go further through in vivo and clinical trials.
By Jung Hee-young and Minu Kim
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