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Mar 20, 2020

Redeploying plant defences

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The complicated secondary metabolism of plants has been the source of countless medicinal compounds and leads for drug discovery. It is little surprise then that plant products and their analogues have been employed as an early line of defence against COVID-19. On 17 February, the Chinese State Council announced that chloroquine phosphate — a structural analogue of quinine, originally extracted from the bark of cinchona trees — can be used for treating COVID-19 patients. This anti-malarial also has broad-spectrum antiviral activity and regulatory effects on the immune system. Clinical evaluation of chloroquine phosphate in more than ten hospitals across several provinces in China has shown that it alleviates the symptoms for most patients and expedites virus seroconversion.


Epidemic diseases are not a new phenomenon, but easy access to transport in the modern world has accelerated their spread. Perhaps some botanical understanding can help slow them down.

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