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Sulfated Seaweed Polysaccharides as Antiviral Agents

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Several sulfated seaweed polysaccharides show high antiviral activity against enveloped viruses, including important human patogens such as human immunodeficiency virus, herpes simplex virus, human citomegalovirus, dengue virus and respiratory syncytial virus. They can be obtained in major amounts and at low costs, have low toxicity and in some cases, lack anticoagulant effects. Even if the systemic applications have many drawbacks, their structure and mode of action indicate potential for topical uses to prevent virus infection. The herpes simplex viruses attach to cells by an interaction between the envelope glycoprotein C and the cell surface heparan sulfate (HS). The virus-cell complex is formed by ionic interactions between the anionic (mainly sulfate) groups in the polysaccharide and basic amino acids of the glycoprotein, and non-ionic ones depending on hydrophobic amino acids interspersed between the basic ones in the glycoprotein-binding zone. Hypothesis are advanced of the corresponding hydrophobic structures in the polysaccharides. The antiviral activity of the sulfated seaweed polysaccharides is based on the formation of formally similar complexes that block the interaction of the viruses with the cells. Correlations are established between different structural parameters and antiviral activity. The minimal, ionic and hydrophobic, structures in the seaweed polysaccharides were hypothesized by comparison of the polysaccharides with the known minimal binding structure in HS / heparin, together with a correlation between those structures of the polysaccharides and their antiviral activity.
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Keywords: antiviral activity; antiviral agent; seaweed; structure-activity relationship; sulfated polysaccharides

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Departamento de Quimica Organica, CIHIDECAR-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellon 2, Ciudad Universitaria, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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