A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee has found that a protein of tamarind seeds reduces the infectivity of chikungunya virus by 64% and the virus RNA levels inside infected cells by nearly 45%.
The team observed that the tamarind protein (tamarind chitinase-like lectin or TCLL) binds to the sugar moiety (N-acetylglucosamine or NAG) present on the surface of chikungunya virus. When TCLL protein binds to the NAG sugar moiety it nearly coats the virus particles thus preventing the virus from binding with the receptors on the host cells. Since binding to the host cell receptors, which is the first step in the infection process, is nearly prevented, the ability of the virus to infect the host cells is compromised.
Based on the promising results obtained through in vitro studies, the researchers are planning to test the protein on animals to prevent or treat chikungunya infection.
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