Seaweed may halt swine flu spread
Tasmanian scientists have discovered a compound occuring naturally in seaweed which could help provide the key to beating swine flu.
The Japanese seaweed Undaria arrived in Tasmania in ballast water more than 20 years ago.
A compound in the seaweed acts as a natural defence against marine viruses and toxins.
Scientists at a private laboratory near Hobart are convinced it is just as effective on humans.
They have tested the compound against several viruses and say it profoundly inhibits the H1N1 virus.
Researcher Dr Helen Fitton says viruses use receptors to get into cells, but this process is stopped in the presence of the seaweed compound.
"The virus is unable to use its receptor to get into the cell," she said.
Marinova Laboratories CEO Paul Garrott says he is anticipating immediate commercial interest and expects the compound will be used in nasal sprays, hand washes and tablets.
"This whole class of fucoidan compounds have been shown to have very profound antiviral activities against a range of influenza strains, against a range of other viruses and coated viruses - we mentioned HIV, we mentioned the herpes simplex virus."