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Can fucoidan help in the fight against bird flu?


The recent discovery of a new Avian Influenza A (bird flu) strain, and recirculation of previously detected strains, have again raised concerns across the globe.

One particular concern is the finding of a bird flu strain currently spreading among poultry in China. As reported by the Daily Mail (15 June 2018), the H7N9 strain - also referred to as 'Disease X' - has so far killed 38% of the 1,625 people it has infected. It is understood to be transmitted from birds to humans but not transmitted between people.

Cases of the H5N6 strain of bird flu have also been confirmed in Northern Ireland (Reuters, 15 June 2018). This is in addition to reports of an outbreak of the H5N1 strain among birds in Nepal last month (Reuters, 30 May 2018) and further reports in Bulgaria (Reuters, 14 June 2018).

So what role can fucoidan play in the fight against bird flu?

Fucoidan is known to exhibit powerful anti-viral properties. Research has shown that fucoidan can prevent viral infection by blocking the entry of viruses into cells and inhibiting the adhesion of viruses to host cells.

Both in vitro and animal studies have demonstrated the anti-viral activity of fucoidan against a range of influenza viruses, including swine flu, parainfluenza and, importantly, strains of bird flu. Through these studies, fucoidan was shown to inhibit the H5N1, H5N3 and H7N2 viral strains of bird flu.

Very recent research has emerged showing that fucoidan can bind to, and inhibit the activity of, viral neuraminidase – a group of enzymes found on the surface of the virus enabling replication. In this study, the intranasal administration of fucoidan was shown to markedly improve survival and decrease viral titers of influenza-infected mice.

Building on these previous studies, Marinova is carrying out its own extensive anti-viral research portfolio. The company is continuing to investigate the role that fucoidan can play in the fight against coated viruses like Avian influenza. For more information on current studies and potential anti-viral applications using Maritech® fucoidan, contact the Marinova team today.

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