Read/Search this Article
In the search for novel antiviral molecules from natural products, we have discovered various antiviral molecules with characteristic mechanisms of action. Scopadulciol (SDC), isolated from the tropical medicinal plant Scoparia dulcis L., showed stimulatory effects on the antiviral potency of acyclovir (ACV) or ganciclovir (GCV). This effect of SDC was exerted via the activation of viral thymidine kinase (HSV-1 TK) and, as a result, an increase in the cellular concentration of the active form of ACV/GCV, i.e., the triphosphate of ACV or GCV. On the basis of these experimental results, cancer gene therapy using the HSV-1 tk gene and ACV/GCV together with SDC was found to be effective in suppressing the growth of cancer cells in animals. Acidic polysaccharides such as calcium spirulan (Ca-SP) from Spirulina platensis, nostoflan from Nostoc flagelliforme, and a fucoidan from the sporophyll of Undaria pinnatifida (mekabu fucoidan) were also found to be potent inhibitors against several enveloped viruses. Their antiviral potency was dependent on molecular weight and content of the sulfate or carboxyl group as well as counterion species chelating with sulfate groups, indicating the importance of the three-dimensional structure of the molecules. In addition, unlike dextran sulfate, Ca-SP was shown to target not only viral absorption/penetration stages but also some replication stages of progeny viruses after penetration into cells. When mekabu fucoidan or nostoflan was administered with oseltamivir phosphate, their synergistic antiviral effects on influenza A virus were confirmed in vitro as well as in vivo.