Red Marine algae extract shows promise in the fight against Covid-19

Researchers from Israel have found that ulvan, a natural substance extracted from marine algae, prevents infection of cells with the coronavirus.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Professor Alexander Golberg of the Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, have found that a substance called ulvan extracted from edible marine algae prevents the infection of cells with the coronavirus. Their initial trial results have been published in the Peer Journal.

According to the researchers, this finding is especially promising because, “[ulvan] is a cheap natural material for production, which may help solve a serious problem – the spread of Covid-19 in large populations, especially in developing countries, which do not have access to the vaccine. The lack of vaccine access takes the lives of many victims and even accelerates the creation of new variants. The study is still in its early stages, but we hope that the discovery will be used in the future to develop an accessible and effective drug, preventing infection with the coronavirus."

Prof Golberg explains, "it is already clear today that the coronavirus vaccine, despite its effectiveness, will not be able to stop the global spread of the pandemic. It is clear that as long as billions in the low-income world that do not have access to the vaccine are not addressed, the virus is expected to develop more and more variants, which may be resistant to vaccines – and the war against the coronavirus will continue.

Find a cheap and accessible solution that will suit even economically weak populations in developing countries would be a monumental step. In our lab, we decided for this purpose to test a substance that could be extracted from a common seaweed. Ulvan is extracted from marine algae called ulva, which is also called “sea lettuce”, and is used for food in places like Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii

Back to blog