Purine Repressing Probiotic Might Halt COVID-19, says Korean Researchers

Korean scientists claim that a lactic acid bacteria from sea buckthorn berries, could potentially inhibit the proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 by repressing purine activation.

Lactobacillus species in the gut microbiota have been found to block pro-inflammatory cytokines to inhibit harmful bacteria like Helicobacter pylori. While studying similar mechanisms against bladder inflammation (cystitis) causing E. coli, a team led by Professor Hana Yoon of Ewha Womans University Medical Center in Seoul, found abundant amounts of Lactobacillus gasseri present in the fermented extracts of sea buckthorn berries.

The probiotic has now been found to repress the activation of purine thereby preventing the SARS-CoV-2 from proliferating. Purine is an important compound required for nucleotide formation. Recent studies have found that the new coronavirus attacks purines in order to form its spike proteins and invade normal cells. The Korean team also found that the berries had several antioxidants, minerals, amino acids, and two other bacteria, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus that use the same binding site as that of  SARS-CoV-2.

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading around the globe at an alarming rate forcing scientists to scramble for critical information while simultaneously developing and testing potential treatments. Emerging studies suggest that the mutation rates of the SARS-CoV-2 virus observed in patients are similar to that of HIV and MERS-CoV. Therefore, countries like Korea are administering retroviral drugs such as Kaletra and anti-HIV drugs to COVID-19 patients with mixed results. Dr. Yoon believes that the probiotic L. gasseri could prove to be an effective supplement to COVID-19 treatments and the same mechanisms might be in use against bladder inflammation and hyperlipidemia.

Professor Goo-Bo Jeong of the Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, Gachon University, who participated in the study, said that L. gasseri is an effective agent not just against COVID-19 causing virus but also others such as Ebola, Hepatitis and AIDS whose proliferation and mutation rates rely on purine.

Related article: Hunt for mRNA-based Coronavirus Vaccine Intensifies after BioNTech’s Alliance with Fosun Pharma, Pfizer

  1. http://cms.ewha.ac.kr/user/ewhamed/
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02326/full
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17878180

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