Marine antiviral drug discovery is a promising scientific venue because of viral abundance (about 109 per liter) in oceans and subsequent evolution of novel compounds exhibiting antiviral activity. The high rate of viral infections in marine environments has driven natural selection, supporting the evolution of innate antiviral mechanisms and compounds in marine organisms. These compounds include secondary metabolites, bioreactive peptides, and proteins. Recognizable antivirals that have been adapted from a marine organism include acyclovir and AZT, which were synthetically modified from arabinosyl nucleosides isolated from a sea sponge.
This particular study examined a commercially harvested gastropod, Haliotidae, which has been suffering epidemic viral ganglioneuritis, caused by a herpes virus (AbHV). Antiviral activity of Haliotis laevigata against HSV-1 was suggested by the research. Plaque assays revealed that lipophilic extract from digestive glands have greatest effect when added an hour after infection, while haemolymph worked best when added soon after infection. This suggests that there are at least two antiviral compounds in abalone, at least one that operates early in infection, and one later in infection, during an intracellular stage. The next step will be to quantify and isolate these reactive compounds and explore their respective mechanisms of activity.
Dang et al. In vitro antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus in the abalone Haliotis laevigata. Journal of General Virology. 2011. 92(3):627-37.