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Current Topics in Phytochemistry   Volumes    Volume 6 
Antiviral activity of medicinal plants
María José Abad Martínez, José Antonio Guerra Guirao, Luis Miguel Bedoya del Olmo, Paulina Bermejo Benito
Pages: 113 - 123
Number of pages: 11
Current Topics in Phytochemistry
Volume 6 

Copyright © 2004 Research Trends. All rights reserved


Infectious viral diseases remain an important worldwide problem, because viruses have resisted prophylaxis or therapy longer than any other form of life. This is due to the nature of the infectious agents, which totally depend upon the cell they infect for their multiplication and survival. This unique characteristic has made development of effective chemotherapeutic agents for treatment of viral infections very difficult. Because of the limitations of currently available therapies, an extensive search for new antiviral agents is ongoing. Higher plants remain as an untapped reservoir of potentially useful chemical compounds, including antiviral agents. Although the search for naturally occurring antiinfectious substances which can interfere with virus infections in man and animals began with the successful isolation of antibiotics from microorganisms, it has not been as intensive as that for synthetic antivirals. This is chiefly due to the existing trend on the part of most virologists toward a rational design of antiviral agents rather than toward empiricism, especially since the mechanism of virus replication at the molecular level has been progressively unravelled. Nevertheless, some groups have attempted to uncover antiviral agents in the plant, animal and marine world. Since 1995, our research group has been investigating higher plants for antiviral properties using a similar methodology. The purpose of this paper is to discuss and evaluate our recently developed antiviral screening for crude extracts of higher plants. We have already tested more than 50 plant species from about 24 families in our virus screening battery.  The results of these tests showed that about  46% of  the plant extracts exhibited some level of in vitro antiviral activity

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