Scientists to explore anti-viral properties of seaweed

Researchers at the University of Liverpool are set to investigate the anti-viral properties of seaweed.

The new project is a collaboration with industrial partner Byotrol plc and will focus on the potential use of anti-viral seaweed compounds in sanitising products, such as hand gels and household cleaners.

The team has been awarded £350K of funding by Innovate UK to carry out the work over the next 16 months.

Easily spread and immune to antibiotics, viruses are very difficult to eradicate and even more expensive to treat, with a limited number of anti-viral solutions. Despite rapid advances in medical and cleaning technology, viruses such as norovirus, influenza and coronavirus continue to pose a major threat to human health and cost the UK billions each year.

AIM-listed hygiene group Byotrol has, for some time, been investigating sustainably sourced anti-virals and has found certain forms of seaweed to have particularly good potential.

The University’s Molecular Virology Research Group will use their expertise to characterise the anti-viral component of the seaweed, evaluate the efficacy of a much broader range of seaweed species and determine its anti-viral mode of action.

Professor James Stewart, who is leading the project at the University of Liverpool, said: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to develop new anti-viral countermeasures, especially ones that are environmentally sustainable. We are excited to be working with Byotrol on the development of these compounds.”

Dr Trevor Francis, Chief Technology Officer of Byotrol plc, said: “We are delighted that Innovate UK is supporting our research into the anti-viral properties of seaweeds and we are very pleased to be working on this project with Professor James Stewart’s excellent team at the University of Liverpool. It is a very exciting area of development for Byotrol.”

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