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Wonder drug from shark chemical?

Compound Found In Liver Can Help Fight Dengue, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis

The Times of India, New Delhi

London: In what may revolutionize human medicine, scientists claim to have found evidence that a compound in the liver of sharks can be used as a drug to protect people from a number of diseases.

A team, led by Michael Zasloff at Georgetown University, says the antibiotic — Squalamine, already known to be safe for use in humans as an antiviral agent — could be used as a new type of drug to treat a broad spectrum of diseases from dengue and yellow fever to hepatitis B, C and D.

“To realize that Squalamine potentially has broad antiviral properties is immensely exciting, especially since we already know so much from ongoing studies about its behaviour in people,” the ‘Daily Mail’ quoted Dr Zasloff. The scientists found that in both laboratory and animal experiments Squalamine produced antiviral activity against the human pathogens found in the diseases such as some forms of hepatitis which cannot currently be treated. Along with offering medical advances, this discovery may solve the mystery of how sharks with primitive immune systems can so effectively fight viruses that plague all living creatures, say the scientists.

Zasloff said: “I believe Squalamine is one of a family of related compounds that protects sharks and some other ocean vertebrates, such as the sea lamprey, from viruses.

“Squalamine appears to protect against viruses that attack the liver and blood tissues, and other similar compounds that we know exist in the shark likely protect against respiratory viral infections, and so on. We may be able to harness shark’s novel immune system to turn all of these antiviral compounds into agents that protect humans against many viruses. That would be revolutionary.” PTI

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