Seaweed extract promising for gastroenteritis relief

Published: 4-Jul-2022

A new study has shown that the marine polysaccharide fucoidan may inhibit norovirus replication by enhancing innate immune response

Norovirus infections are a leading cause of epidemic and sporadic gastroenteritis worldwide.

Gastroenteritis caused by norovirus usually starts suddenly and causes vomiting and watery diarrhoea. Sufferers may also experience nausea, fever, stomach pains, headache, muscle aches and dehydration.

Symptoms usually begin between 24 and 48 hours after exposure to the virus and generally last for one or two days. It is highly contagious and quickly spreads in day care centres, schools and other institutional settings. There are currently no preventative vaccines or antiviral treatments for norovirus.

Previous in vitro research has shown that fucoidans, a group of natural compounds derived from brown seaweed, may be an inhibitor of noroviral entry to cells. A number of preclinical studies indicate the potential for fucoidan to both lessen the symptoms of norovirus and reduce the spread of infection.

A new study utilising zebrafish larvae has shown that a high purity fucoidan extract enhanced the innate immune response of the host. The fucoidan inhibited the replication of human norovirus and also significantly upregulated genes associated with interferon signalling.

Speaking of the study, Marinova Research Scientist and coauthor of the paper, Dr Ahyoung Park, said: “These results suggest exciting potential for high purity fucoidan to address the symptoms of norovirus. We can expect to see increasing interest in the use of fucoidan for this application.”

The high purity fucoidan utilised in the study was extracted from Fucus vesiculosus seaweed by Marinova Pty Ltd.

The paper, "Fucoidan from Fucus vesiculosus can inhibit human norovirus replication by enhancing the host innate immune response" was published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

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