A team of scientists from Israel and Iceland has published a new report showing that an extraction of spirulina algae has the potential to reduce the severity of COVID-19 in advanced cases.
The research, first published in a peer-reviewed journal called Marine Biotechnology, found that an extract of photosynthetically manipulated Spirulina is 70% effective in inhibiting the release of the cytokine TNF-a, a small signaling protein used by the immune system.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the research was conducted in a MIGAL laboratory in northern Israel with algae grown and cultivated in Iceland by the Israeli company VAXA. VAXA received funding from the European Union to explore and develop "natural" treatments for coronavirus.
In a small percentage of patients, infection with the coronavirus causes the immune system to release an excessive number of TNF-a cytokines, resulting in what is known as a cytokine storm. The storm causes acute respiratory distress syndrome and damage to other organs, the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients.
“If you control or are able to mitigate the excessive release of TNF-a, you can eventually reduce mortality,” said Asaf Tzachor, a researcher from the IDC Herzliya School of Sustainability and the lead author of the study.
During cultivation, growth conditions were adjusted to control the algae’s metabolomic profile and bioactive molecules, something that Tzachor refers to as “enhanced” algae.
Meanwhile, in other Israel-related COVID news, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly struck a deal with the Crown Prince of Bahrain for Israel to join a collective experiment for Middle Eastern states to develop their own vaccines.
Netanyahu, who is seeking re-election on March 23, said on Wednesday he was in talks with the heads of Pfizer and Moderna to open facilities in Israel as he seeks to get practically all of Israel's population vaccinated - effectively ending the crisis - before Election Day arrives.