Secret to shark health could fight human viruses

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Sharks are primitive creatures but their bodies produce a sophisticated substance that shows promise in fighting a range of human viruses from hepatitis to yellow fever, researchers said on Monday.

The compound, called squalamine, was discovered in 1993 but the study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences is the first to explore its potential use against human viruses.

Researchers tested squalamine – manufactured from dogfish sharks’ livers – in lab dishes and in animal subjects and found it could inhibit or control viral infections, and in some cases appeared to cure animals of their ills.

The project began when lead investigator, Michael Zasloff, professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center, sent samples of squalamine to a series of labs around the United States for testing.

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