While many people are aware of the large number of invertebrates that populate our planet, you might not have thought about the fact that some of these strange looking creatures might actually hold the key to curing some of our most prevalent and debilitating diseases. Certain types of insects and land invertebrates, as well as corals and other sea-based marine invertebrates feature specific DNA and RNA-related qualities that are still not fully understood, but are actually capable of strong antiviral action that can and has been used successfully for the prevention of a number of diseases and the defeat of virus infections that may cause significant physical ailments.
Antiviral Responses in Invertebrates
There are several studies that have reported various species of insects, shrimp and oysters, as well as other invertebrates can induce strong, non-specific antiviral responses that can actually lead to antiviral immunity. Invertebrates feature a more complex and as of yet unknown process through which their immune systems develop and deal with different types of viruses, and researchers have lately taken to studying the effects and specific components of these responses, claiming they could actually help them design improved drugs and medicine that could help cure a variety of unwanted diseases.
Antiviral Responses Between Hosts and Pathogens
Mosquito-borne viruses in particular, as well as other viral infections that are known for their debilitating effects on the host body, can be countered through persistent, non-lethal infections that were detected in invertebrate RNA responses, as well as intracellular signaling pathways. It has been shown by researchers that these signals can spread throughout the tissues – particularly in the case of plants – and, while the interactions between the precise genes and signals involved are still not clearly understood, significant progress has been made in identifying cases when invertebrates’ DNA response actually does cause beneficial effects with regards to blocking certain pathogens.
Underwater Invertebrates and Medicine
Underwater invertebrates have long been known for their beautiful, intricate structures, colorful habitats and impressive longevity. However, lately experts have also linked them to a vast medicinal potential through an intriguing and, for now, not fully understood genetic storehouse of tools for fighting viral infections. Sponges obtained from Caribbean reefs were among the first invertebrates to be used for manufacturing antiviral drugs, while places like Japan, Taiwan and China are widely renowned for their reliance on marine invertebrates for traditional medicine designed to cure respiratory, sexual, liver and circulatory disorders. Corals, tunicates, bryozoans and mollusks all feature a greater phylogenetic diversity leading to far better results in fending off viral attacks, when compared with the abilities of different types of terrestrial organisms.
Corals and Antiviral Medicine
Corals are among the most well-known marine invertebrates that have the specific qualities required for the curing of a host of different viral issues. Secosteroids – enzymes actively used by a number of corals to protect themselves from disease – are already used to treat conditions like asthma, arthritis and various inflammatory disorders. Bioactive molecules produced by sea sponges were also linked to strong anti-tumor, antiviral and antibacterial effects, while organic chemicals taken from Caribbean soft corals have been proven to show strong anti-inflammatory results when used on human skin.