This Research Topic is part of a series. See also Volume I: Emerging and Old Viral Diseases: Antiviral Drug Discovery from Medicinal Plants
In recent years, the world has witnessed the emergence of new viruses and increasing virulence and spread of a number of previously known viruses. It has been estimated that about 219 virus species currently affect humans. Interestingly, with the exception of a few, no effective therapy in the form of drugs or vaccines is available for most viruses. Plants can form a rich source of lead compounds and potential new drugs. There are at least 391,000 plant species known to science and less than 2% have been studied for their potential as new drug sources. Plants contain secondary metabolites which, due to their diverse pharmacological activities, can prove useful in combating emerging and old viral diseases. In fact, natural products in drug discovery have finally caught the attention of scientists, however, more efforts are needed in this area.
The challenge of new drug discovery is best exemplified by COVID-19. While numerous in silico studies have been conducted, none of these compounds has become a clinical lead or at least has become a candidate ready for clinical trials. The same happened with SARS, MERS, and a host of new viruses like Nipah, Hanta, and Zika. Phytochemicals present in Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) plant formulations, and, to a lesser extent, Ayurveda and Unani formulations, have been reported with sucess. However, the outcomes are often focused on the treatment of secondary complications of the viral disease, rather than the virus inhibition.
The challenge here is to be able to integrate the three approaches: (i) collecting ethno-medicinal information, (ii) performing in silico studies on the phytochemicals of a given plant, together with (iii) executing wet laboratory experiments for viral inhibitory studies. Information on traditional medicines can play a vital role in this type of studies for future discovery of antiviral drugs. Additionally, these approaches will contribute to explore the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of co-existing viral diseases.
In this Research Topic, we would like to focus on the different aspects of drug discovery against emerging and old viral diseases, from the traditional use of plants to the discovery of lead compounds. As such, we welcome articles in the following areas:
• Traditional medicinal uses of plants (ethnobotany, ethnomedicine) against emerging and old viral diseases – a critical appraisal.
• Isolation and identification of secondary metabolites (phytochemicals) from plants and pharmacological activity studies of phytochemicals against viral diseases and associates symptoms.
• Clinical trials involving phytochemicals and herbal formulations, including their safety and efficacy.
• Use of in silico methods combined with experimental work for evaluating a given phytochemical against key viral target proteins or the virus itself.
All the manuscripts submitted to the collection will need to fully comply with the Four Pillars of Best Practice in Ethnopharmacology
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