Corales colombianos para combatir el VIH

Un grupo de investigadores de la Universidad Nacional descubrió que varios corales “blandos” de las costas del país contienen poderosos antivirales que serían efectivos en la lucha contra el  o el .

Un grupo de investigadores colombianos, liderados por el profesor Fabián Amaya, se sumergió  en las aguas de la bahía de Santa Marta para extraer muestras de los corales allí presentes. Su objetivo era encontrar si, como otros lugares en el mundo, los corales colombianos tienen compuestos que ayuden a combatir el virus de la inmunodeficiencia humana (VIH), el herpes, entre otros patógenos.

Las pruebas fueron positivas. Amaya señaló que si bien los resultados que se han obtenido hasta el momento se han dado in vitro, la cantidad de compuestos activos en los corales es bastante alta, por lo que sería viable usarlos en la industria farmacéutica.

La explicación biológica para que estos antivirales estén presentes en los corales tiene que ver con la indefensión a la que se ven sujetos estos animales: al no tener una armadura para protegerse, ni capacidad motora para huir, los corales han desarrollado un mecanismo de defensa con base en propiedades químicas. Es similar a lo que hacen las plantas cuando cubren sus hojas de veneno, por ejemplo.

En el caso puntual de los corales, los compuestos químicos que usan para defenderse se llaman diptenos o dolabellanos. Después de extraerse y purificarse, ambos compuestos mostraron tener una  bastante alta a la hora de detener la reproducción de virus como el VIH o el herpes.

Ya en 2014, pero en las playas de Australia, un grupo de científicos había encontrado que los corales de esa región del mundo contenían una proteína llamada cnidarinas, que bloqueaba la expansión del VIH. El estadounidense Barry O’Keefe, quien lideró la , señaló en ese entonces que las cnidarinas podrían usarse en gelatinas o  para que actuaran como una barrera contra la  del VIH.

Si bien todavía no es claro si los compuestos de los corales colombiano se usarán para la  de la enfermedad o para controlar la infección una vez se haya contraído, Amaya explicó la importancia de desarrollar nuevos tratamientos, “que a poder ser, tengan menos efectos secundarios y sean más económicos”. Añadió que este hallazgo es la prueba de que el futuro de  debería encausarse al aprovechamiento de su biodiversidad, pero que para lograrlo se necesita tiempo, dinero y mano de obra cualificada.

Fuente: El Espectador

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