Enveloped animal viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, human papillomavirus, Marburg, and influenza are major public health concerns around the world. The prohibitive cost of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for most HIV-infected patients in subSaharan Africa and the serious side effects in those who have access to ARV drugs make a compelling case for the study of complementary and alternative therapies. Such therapies should have scientifically proved antiviral activity and minimal toxic effects. A plant extract, Secomet-V, with an anecdotal indication in humans for promise as an anti-HIV treatment, was investigated. Using a previously described attenuated vaccinia virus vGK5, we established the antiviral activity of Secomet-V. Chemical analysis showed that it has an acidic pH, nontoxic traces of iron (<10 ppm), and almost undetectable levels of arsenic (<1.0 ppm). The color varies from colorless to pale yellow to dark brown. The active agent is heat stable at least up to sterilizing temperature of 121°C. The crude plant extract is a mixture of several small molecules separable by high-pressure liquid chromatography. The HIV viral loads were significantly reduced over several months in a few patients monitored after treatment with Secomet-V. Secomet-V was also found to have antiviral activity against the SARS virus but not against the West Nile virus. Secomet-V, therefore, is a broad-spectrum antiviral, which possibly works by neutralizing viral infectivity, resulting in the prevention of viral attachment.
- Acidic plant extract
- Broad-spectrum antiviral
- Enveloped viruses
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)