It’s interesting to know active substances that may turn out to be the most effective material for making drugs are hidden in unexpected places.
We are talking of close to 400 different types of mahogany plants which have ingredients that form silvestrol, an active substance that could cure hepatitis E.
That is, an international body of researchers has discovered the capacity of a naturally occurring substance and its effect against the hepatitis E virus. The active substance in question is called silvestrol.
Lab tests show that the substance inhibits (with stronger effect) the replication of pathogens in the mouse model as well as in cell culture.
Mahogany Plants Make Active Ingredient
According to the study conducted by Dr. Daniel Todt together with professor Dr. Eike Steinmann, and other researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum, silvestrol is formed by mahogany plants and the ingredients can be extracted from their leaves.
For the longest time experts saw the substance as a potential ingredient with some active impact on Ebola and a few kinds of tumorous cells, but they’ve never tested it officially on humans.
Now, Todt and team have successfully done screening tests with the active material against the virus. Their primary goal was to study the effect of silvestrol on hepatitis E. “In the investigation, we managed to treat the reporter viruses with the substance in cell cultures and the results were amazing,” said Dr. Todt.
The first observation was that the viruses replicated less after introducing the active substance, contrary to how they did before the treatment. The work appears in July 23rd’s issue of the journal Antiviral Research.
The Rate of Replication
To perform tests, the scientists had differentiated stem cells into liver cells. After that, they infected the cells with hepatitis E—talking of those viruses from both the patients and those they produced in the lab.
They then observed how the infection fared on for several days—under silvestrol and without it. Using antibodies pointed specifically against the virus, this allowed them to distinctively measure the rate at which the viruses replicated in the infected cells.
What They Found
After treatment with silvestrol, the number of affected cells and the proliferation rate dropped drastically. Daniel Todt adds that the effect of this active agent proved to be much stronger than that of ribavirin.
For clarity, ribavirin is so far the only drug used on hepatitis E which means silvestrol could be the higher solution if the final drug gets approved by the FDA. It’s also interesting that the substance was effective on all four clinically known genetically categorized types of the hepatitis E viruses that make people sick.
Digging deeper, the experts wanted to know whether the substance could deter viral replication in other living organisms as well. So they conducted additional tests specifically on the mice with human liver cells implanted on them, those infected with HEV.
Likewise, the results turned promising, as lesser replications were recorded after the silvestrol treatment.
Raised Hopes for Hepatitis E Research
According to the team, this research ignites great hope by the fact that silvestrol which is a naturally occurring agent would cure hepatitis E. First, it would mean treatment will be affordable, and second, all tests (in small doses) came out with no harmful side effects.
However, this is not yet ready for public use– the researchers are still investigating other clinical potentials in the substance. “What we have done so far is basic foundational research where other studies can build on,” said Eike Steinmann.
Also, worthy of mention is that these Bochum-based scientists are said to be the first, to ever comprehensively conduct such like tests systems on active substances and to report their impact on the hepatitis E.
There is also a great possibility that silvestrol might have an impact on other viruses, but time will tell.