A recent study has found that plant and root extracts of velvetleaf can prevent the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 by up to 98% in cell cultures. The extract that is used by Ayurvedic doctors to treat fever, especially dengue, was found to work like several other antivirals. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the study by three laboratories of the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) is yet to be peer reviewed.
It was found during cell cultures that the whole plant aqueous extract reduced the viral load by 57 per cent and the hydroalcoholic extract (a solution made of water and alcohol) reduced it by 98 per cent.
A pre-print study said researchers also tested the various molecules found in the extract individually against Sars-CoV-2 virus and found pareirarine had the highest inhibition of 80 per cent.
“First we used connectivity map – a platform that has information on the pathways of various drug – to see how the plant extract likely works. What we found is that it has similar pathways of action like many antivirals. When we did the lab-based study, we found this to be true,” Dr Mitali Mukerji, senior scientist at Genomics and molecular medicine department at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, was quoted as saying by the report.
She said as the plant extract is already in use in Ayurveda, the safety aspect is taken care of. “Now, only a randomised clinical trial can tell whether it does help in reducing the severity or duration of the infection in people,” she added.