Nigerian Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacokinetics, Chinedum Peace Babalola has said natural products could be an important resource in the development of COVID-19 treatment, especially as the world is yet to get specific drugs for treating COVID-19.

In a presentation made during  the September edition of the virtual round table organized by the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) titled ‘COVID-19 INFECTION AND YOU’, Prof Babalola, who is also Vice-Chancellor at Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Ogun State said natural products have, in the past, contributed to treatments against other viruses, such as HIV, MERS-CoV, and influenza.

“Natural products are described long term as bioactive substances and some phytochemical classes such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and peptides are known antiviral bioproducts, and have been virtually tested with success against COVID-19,” Prof Babalola said.

She, however, stated that there is need to provide starting points for research in this area in order to speed up the establishment of anti-SARS-CoV-2 bioproducts

Prof Babalola’s presentation sheds more glaring light on the natural remedies to COVID-19 amid several misinformation on the subject.

According to her, past researches have given credence to the antiviral & immnunomodulatory properties of some African Plants that could prove useful in future and immediate studies on treatments against COVID-19. Common plants with such properties as listed by Prof Babalola include Mangifera indica (mango), Manihot esculenta (cassava), Anacardium occidentale (cashew) and others which she said have antiviral potentials whereas Artemisia annua has been proven to have such effect.

She also said plants like Vernonia amygdalina ( bitter leaf), Moringa oleifera  ( Moringa), Telfairia occidentalis (Pumpkin) and others are immune boosters that could help in the treatment.

According to her, Zingiber officinale (Ginger), Allium sativum( garlic), Allium cepa ( Onions), Xylopia aetiopica (Pepper), Capsicum esculentum( pepper), Aframomum melegueta (Alligator pepper), Garcinia kola (Bitter kola) and Carica papaya (PawPaw) are plants that have been used in the symptomatic management of infleunzas.  

“There are quite a number of bioactive compounds in plants used as spices, vegetables and fruits that can boost our immune system against this deadly virus,” Prof Babalola said.

These compounds, she said are rich in anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant properties amongst others which are important in the fight against covid-19.

According to her, the similarity between SARS-CoV-1 and COVID-19 brings light to the development of new drugs or even vaccine.

Suggesting how this can happen, Prof Babalola has called for screening of potential antiviral plants, and equipping of facilities for antiviral R &D, clinical trials and access, while calling for more studies on in silico derived compounds.



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