Potential anti-Covid-19 drug being developed in Ireland

Potential anti-Covid-19 drug being developed in Ireland

National University of Ireland Galway zoology professor Louise Allcock. (Photo credits: Independent.ie)

Sourced from the net by Tracy Cabrera

GALWAY, IRELAND— Scientists at the National University of Ireland in Galway have uncovered a possible wonder drug from a coral they found in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the so-called Emerald Isle that could potentially fight the coronavirus.

Based on initial reports, NUI Galway researchers reported that the cauliflower coral they had found and collected contained a potential drug chemical compound that acts against the virus responsible for Covid-19.

The cauliflower coral, named due to its color, shape, and structure, was found on the seabed about half a mile below the surface on the edge of Ireland’s continental shelf and on contains a previously unknown chemical compound.

Zoologist Louise Allcock narrated that “while (they) did not set out to find the specific species (but) were hunting for . . . soft corals because of their potential in bio-discovery.”

“Nature never ceases to amaze—to think that a coral, which spends its life on the sea bed and is never exposed to viruses and diseases which affect humanity so profoundly, has the potential to influence treatments and therapies. Drug development is a lengthy process, but the first step is finding the magic compounds with bio-reactivity in the laboratory,” NUI Galway professor noted.

According to Allcock, who is also director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Ocean Research & Exploration (COREx) at NUI Galway, their exploration of specific marine life is part of a research project funded by Science Foundation Ireland that deploys the ROV Holland I submarine from RV Celtic Explorer to hunt for deep-sea corals and sponges which may have novel chemical compounds with pharmaceutical potential.

“The research into the chemical make-up of the cauliflower coral is being conducted in partnership with South Florida University in the United States,” she added.

Regarding their discovery, the renowned zoology professor revealed that the compound isolated from the cauliflower coral they found has been named ‘tuaimenal’, which is a portmanteau—blending tuaim, which alludes to ‘tuaimneacha’ as used in old Irish to describe the sounds of the sea, and enal, which is a chemistry term for a compound with an alkene aldehyde functional group.

Initial study results showed that tuaimenalis able to block the major enzyme of the Covid-19 virus, known as Main Protease, which is responsible for the manufacture of virus particles inside the infected cell.

Dr. Carolina De Marco Verissimo of the Molecular Parasitology Laboratory at NUI Galway, who carried out the detailed study of the coral-derived tuaimenal and how it interacts with the Covid-19 enzyme, said: “Tuaimenal A represents what we term in science as a ‘lead compound’—that is, a basic structure from which scientists can produce more potent and specific drugs that could be used for the treatment of Covid-19 and perhaps other viruses.”

(This article first came out in Irish Central magazine on July 15, 2022) – ai/mtvn

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