Brock University researchers, Biolyse Pharma working to enhance effectiveness of quercetin

stcatharinesstandard.com

Brock University has teamed up with a St. Catharines pharmaceutical company to research a natural dietary supplement that might offer another level of protection against the novel coronavirus.

Chemistry professor Travis Dudding said the university has partnered with Biolyse Pharma to research ways to increase the effectiveness of quercetin — “a natural product and a dietary flavonoid that is found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables” — to help prevent spread of the virus.

Dudding said quercetin is safe and “consumed by people all the time,” but previous studies of the product have shown it also has anti-viral properties.

He said quercetin contains a molecule that inhibits a virus’s ability to enter cells and replicate causing infection.

Through research Dudding is conducting with students Ivor Smajlagic, Rozhin Rowshanpour and Srini Vemulapalli, he said they hope to find ways of overcoming that limitation.

“We know quercetin has a high potential to be useful and effective as a preventative element,” he said. “But one of the downsides of quercetin is it has poor water solubility. This becomes a problem because when a person takes it, it is not absorbed effectively. You don’t know how much is actually getting to your patient and it can vary from patient to patient.”

Dudding said the researcher combines quercetin with other molecules in attempts to create a more water-soluble derivative.

The university teamed up with Biolyse Pharma for a $50,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Alliance grant, a program providing funding for partner organizations collaborating on COVID-19 research.

Biolyse Pharma manager Claude Mercure remains hopeful quercetin will eventually help save lives.

Mercure said the company wrote a letter to the federal government in March as the pandemic was just beginning to hit Canada, asking for support in its efforts to ship enough quercetin into Canada from China to treat more than 160,000 Canadian front-line workers.

Mercure said the company has yet to receive a response from the government.

Meanwhile, a new clinical trial focusing on determining the effectiveness of quercetin in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 is set to begin this month at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, led by Michel Chrétien.

The clinicaltrials.gov website reports the proposed Montreal Clinical Research Institute study is to include an estimated 150 participants to evaluate the effect of quercetin when given to subjects with confirmed COVID-19.

Results from that study are expected next spring.

Several other studies are looking at quercetin’s potential worldwide, including clinical trials that took place in China early this year.

In Norfolk, Va, quercetin is a key component of a COVID-19 prophylactic being developed and studied by Dr. Paul Marik, a professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“We believe it has enormous potential,” Marik said, while expressing concern about the country’s handling of the virus in his country.

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“We have over 250,000 people who have died (in the U.S.), and it looks like we’re going into a really bad winter,” he said, adding he hopes the prophylactic will ultimately help prevent further sickness.

Marik, who completed part of his medical training in London, Ont., said bogus claims about COVID-19 treatments can cause more harm than good and may be hindering acceptance of the benefits of quercetin.

“There are all these nutcases who are suggesting all these things, but you know all the things we came up with are based on really excellent scientific data,” he said. “It’s not like this came out of thin air. If you look at its antiviral properties, it’s been very well studied.”

A study conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, of 113 health-care workers determined that use of quercetin and vitamin C “was protective for healthcare workers.”

In that study, only one of 71 health care workers who received the quercetin and vitamin C mixture eventually caught the virus, while nine of the 42 health care workers who did not receive it tested positive for COVID-19.

In an e-mail, Dr. Hasan Onal — the study’s co-author — said his team addressed the problems with the bio-availability of quercetin by combining it with vitamin C.

Onal said his study has already had a larger impact among healthcare workers than anticipated.

“Everyday we got dozens of mails or calls regarding the dose or content from health care workers under high risk,” he said, adding those messages came from health care workers well beyond Turkey’s borders.

While that study is focused on prevention, Onal said he has another study currently underway looking at the role of quercetin in the treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Another ongoing study in Saudi Arabia, using quercetin combined with zinc, bromelain and vitamin C, also holds promise, according to a preliminary report on the research.

The report says the treatment “shows a promising positive therapeutic effect” when used on patients diagnosed with COVID-19.


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