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Chemical found in sharks may lead to new treatments for viral infections

September 20, 2011
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WASHINGTON — A chemical found in some species of sharks may provide a potent weapon against human viruses, according to BBC News.

Researchers at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have found that squalamine, a compound found in dogfish sharks, kills a broad spectrum of human and animal viruses.

Dogfish sharks produce squalamine to fight off bacteria, but it has also been shown to disrupt the membrane interactions needed for viral replication.

Animal studies showed that squalamine controlled infections of yellow fever, Eastern equine encephalitis virus and murine cytomegalovirus.

Synthetic squalamine has already been given to human patients in clinical trials to stop blood vessel growth in cancers, with no major side effects.

“We may be able to harness the shark’s novel immune system to turn all of these antiviral compounds into agents that protect humans against a wide variety of viruses,” said lead researcher Michael Zasloff.
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