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Posted: Thursday, October 08 2009. 10:22

Wine Health: Wine Resveratrol May Fight Viruses

Resveratrol, the polyphenolic compound found in red wine may be able to fight off viruses, according to a new Italian study which claims that the polyphenolic compound appears to prevent virus replication at the cellular level whereas the chemical has shown hints of anti-viral properties in previous studies.

Viruses, from the common cold to polio and even the swine flu, claims the report according to Wine Spectator, are infectious agents that can only reproduce inside the cells of a host, inserting their genetic material into the cells. The new study, published in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, finds that the polyomavirus is unable to hijack a cell for this purpose if resveratrol is around.

"The continuous presence of resveratrol in the culture medium is necessary to exert its antiviral action," said Gianfranco Risuleo, a genetic and molecular biologist at Sapienza University in Rome and a co-author of the study.

Polyomavirus, a family of viruses that can trigger tumor growth, is often chosen for research because its reproduction is totally dependent on the metabolism of the infected cell and therefore can be measured during several stages of its proliferation.

For the current study, the researchers exposed two different lines of mouse tissue, one with tumors and one without, to polyomavirus and then to either 20 or 40 micromoles of resveratrol. (The average glass of red wine has 10 times less resveratrol.) Control groups were not given any resveratrol.

The researchers found that in the tissue without tumors, after 24 hours, 20 micromoles of resveratrol reduced the number of viable infected cells to 80 percent. By 48 hours, that number dipped to 60 percent. With 40 micromoles, only 60 percent of the infected cells were viable after 24 hours, with only 42 percent still healthy after 48 hours, adds the report.

The research indicates that resveratrol somehow blocks the ability of a virus to use the nucleus of a cell to replicate its own DNA. In cases where resveratrol was removed from the experiment after only four hours, the virus was soon reproducing freely.

The results show a definite clinical potential for the red-wine compound.

The resveratrol also prevented viral reproduction in tumor cells. "Interestingly, tumor cells seem slightly more sensitive to the drug," Risuleo said. Recent studies suggest some viruses may play a role in triggering some types of cancer. For example, according to a new study published online on Sept. 23 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, polyomavirus is now believed to be associated with a rare skin cancer, known as Merkel cell carcinoma.

The study like many other similar studies which seem to have become a focus of academic assignment for medical researchers have the typical rider- more research is needed to see how widespread the effect is. More funding or grant available anywhere?!

It is almost impossible to estimate the impact such a study would have had on wine consumption if it were to be proven that wine can actually fight off H1N1 virus and one can take a glass of red wine-twice a day to prevent the virus causing the damned swine flu!!

Till the studies decisively prove or disprove either way, one need not wait for them to show a definite result- two glasses a day of red wine (or white, if you like more) are not going to hurt you but might offer a plethora of health benefits.

       

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