Suppression of the Hepatitis C viral load by Phyllanthus niruri extracts
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a public health crisis, affecting over 170 million people by 2011. Conventional treatment, interferon alpha with ribavirin, can often be ineffective and may lead to severe side effects, and this lack of effective treatment poses significant challenges to patients, healthcare providers, and public health officials. As a result, our team investigated the therapeutic potential of medicinal plant extracts from Phyllanthus niruri as an alternative treatment for HCV. Molecular barcoding of chloroplast genes rbcl and matk was used to document the genetic identity of our plants. Phytochemicals were then extracted from dried plant material to isolate potential active compounds. We applied the extraction products to HCV-infected cell lines, specifically Huh7.5 liver cancer cells with J6JFH virus, to determine their effects on viral load and cell toxicity. Our extracts significantly decrease the number of viral copies per cell with no significant toxicity. Viral load suppression was strongest 24 hours after treatment. This effect either declined (extracts 3 and 4) or was sustained (extracts 1 and 2) over time. Extract 4 at 1 μg/ml at 24 hours and 5 at 10 μg/ml at 96 hours reached near 100% suppression, demonstrating significant potent effect comparable to interferon-alpha, but the effect of Extract 4 is not sustained. It also demonstrates different extracts may exhibit different kinetics, suggesting different mechanisms of action. Overall, our study serves as a building block to develop novel treatments and contributes to the discovery of alternative drug options for HCV patients.