About this Research Topic
Viral infection is one of the burning issues in the public health domain, worldwide. From time to time, numerous viral afflictions caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), herpes simplex, dengue, ebola, and influenza viruses have been raising universal concern. Above all, the most recent pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has created an extraordinary scare due to the unprecedented loss of lives and destruction of livelihood, threatening the economy and health security at the local as well as global level. Presently, a number of antiviral drugs or cocktail of drugs are available to combat these diseases (except COVID-19, as yet). Nevertheless, these treatments suffer from drawbacks like low antiviral activity, genotype-dependent efficacy, side effects, and emergence of drug-resistant mutants which are the main obstacles for achieving the desired outcome in this field.
Historically, medicinal herbs and natural products have been the mainstay of healthcare systems, and also an integral part of the cultural heritage of mankind around the globe. Eventually, a number of such traditional plant products gave us valuable clues to design and formulate most of the drugs enlisted in the modern pharmacopeia. Truly, the plant kingdom is an invaluable repository of countless phytochemicals bestowed with unique stereochemical profiles giving rise to significant therapeutic prospects, and provides distinct core structures or scaffolds amenable to design and development of novel drug molecules. In fact, during the last three decades, about 50% of the clinically approved pharmaceutical agents have emerged either directly or indirectly from Nature - mostly plant-derived secondary metabolites - which were ‘pre-screened’ while evolving through their natural metabolic transformation. Therefore, the therapeutic agents based on plant products are rather favorably assimilated by our physiological system and have a distinct advantage over synthetic medicinal compounds. Hence, it is understandable that the time-honored herbal prescriptions continue to give succour to the population in developing countries for their basic healthcare needs; even a resurgence of interest in plant-based medicines has been noted in the developed countries as well. Therefore, a strategic approach to combat viral infections in the 21st century would be to explore the empirical records of traditional practices enshrined in ethnopharmacological cultures, worldwide, with due support from the enormous advancement in knowledge and technology in hand.
Meanwhile, certain derivatives or analogs of plant products, like silymarin, andrographolide, quercetin, curcumin, calanolide, and betulinic acid have already demonstrated notable antiviral activity, individually or as adjuvants of standard clinical agents. Also, a lot of plant species with putative antiviral potential remains untapped as only a limited number of those plants have been studied meticulously in this regard. Hence, it is high time to make the most of these natural resources on a war footing - before they get further depleted from the earth, unfortunately - by undertaking systematic investigation through the application of modern tools of drug discovery. For example, recent advancements in nanoparticle-based formulation and delivery techniques could be successfully employed for the strategic development of natural product therapeutics. Lately, the pharmaceutical sector is considering chemo-informatics based Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches to facilitate the molecular design and lead discovery. It is envisaged that a computational model trained on synthetic molecules would be able to generate prototypes of bioactive phytochemicals to combat viral infections with particular reference to coronavirus. Thus, the characteristics of a pharmacologically active natural product could be incorporated into a deep neural network for de novo design and synthesis of new chemical entities. Taken together, the optimistic outcome of the global challenge to bring plant-based antiviral therapeutics from ‘bench to bedside’ is bound to motivate researchers for a positive breakthrough in the near future.
In this Research Topic, we welcome Original Research, Review, Mini-review, Methods, and Opinion articles that relate to, but are not limited to, the following subtopics:
• Medicinal plants as a repository of prospective antiviral metabolites/phytochemicals with broad-spectrum antiviral activity (including Coronavirus).
• Methodology of isolation/testing/screening strategy for the discovery of novel antiviral plant products.
• Traditional / poly-herbal medicinal formulations based on crude plant parts/extracts showing the prospective antiviral property.
• Synthetic derivatives/analogs of phytochemicals with potential antiviral/synergistic property.
• Nanoparticle-based delivery systems for antiviral plant products.
• Plant products as adjuvants, in combination with standard antiviral therapeutics.
• Clinical application of plant products in the management of viral infection.
• Future directions for research on the antiviral potential of medicinal plants.
Only herbal products with well-defined composition and plant extracts with standardized chemical constituents will be considered in this project.
You can find more information about the Article Types guidelines in the Ethnopharmacology section here). All the manuscripts submitted to this project will be peer-reviewed and need to fully comply with the Four Pillars of Best Practice in Ethnopharmacology (you can freely download the full version here).
Keywords: Viral infection, Antiviral drug, Plant-based antiviral therapeutics, Antiviral plants, Coronavirus
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.