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Chemical protects against viral infections: dogfish shark


Squalus acanthias / None / LicensePD - Public Domain

Chemical compound, squalamine, in dogfish shark protects against viral infections by disrupting the membrane interactions needed for viral replication.

Dogfish sharks have powerful natural immunity to viral infections. "Antiviral compounds that increase the resistance of host tissues represent an attractive class of therapeutic. Here, we show that squalamine, a compound previously isolated from the tissues of the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias) and the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral activity against human pathogens, which were studied in vitro as well as in vivo. Both RNA- and DNA-enveloped viruses are shown to be susceptible. The proposed mechanism involves the capacity of squalamine, a cationic amphipathic sterol, to neutralize the negative electrostatic surface charge of intracellular membranes in a way that renders the cell less effective in supporting viral replication. Because squalamine can be readily synthesized and has a known safety profile in man, we believe its potential as a broad-spectrum human antiviral agent should be explored." (Zasloff et al. 2011: 15978)
About the inspiring organism
Med_shark Dogfish shark
Squalus acanthias (non Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name: Spurdog

Habitat(s): Marine Neritic, Marine Oceanic
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: FishBase
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_VU IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Antiviral drugs

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Medical

Zasloff M; Adams AP; Beckerman B; Ann Campbell A; Han Z; Luijten E; Meza I; Julander J; Mishra A; Qu W; Taylor JM; Weaver SC; Wong GCL. 2011. Squalamine as a broad-spectrum systemic antiviral agent with therapeutic potential. PNAS. 108(38): 15978-15983.
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