Broccoli, olives and chamomile could help in the fight against Covid, University of the West of Scotland (UWS) research has revealed.

Studies led by UWS academics, in collaboration with a range of international partners, looked at molecules from various plants; discovering that materials found in olive leaves, broccoli and chamomile contain strong antiviral properties that are effective against Covid. The research uncovered great potential to develop these substances for use in cost-effective treatments against Covid.

Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal of Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, said: “This is an exciting discovery, and using readily available, low-cost natural sources to develop effective treatments for Covid will provide a variety of societal benefits.

“UWS has a broad range of internationally-renowned research expertise, and I am incredibly proud of the tireless commitment from our academics to find solutions to some of the world’s most urgent issues.”

Despite the advancement of vaccines as a protective measure, the emergence of newly evolved strains of Covid means that its threat to public health continues and finding other suitable and cost-effective treatments remain a worldwide priority.

Dr Mostafa Rateb, Lecturer in UWS’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “Our natural resources provide a treasure trove of opportunity for the development of new drug treatments. Not only do they have effective results, but they also offer low-cost options for the development of new therapies.

“This research is the result of close collaboration with a range of international partners and we are looking forward to the next stages, as we seek to move towards pre-clinical trials.”

Around 70% of the world’s antibiotics and antivirals are derived from various natural sources, including plants, marine organisms and microorganisms. Between January 1981 and September 2019, 1881 drugs have been approved for use against various diseases – 46% of the molecules used in these drugs are either natural, or derived from natural sources.

Although initial research findings are extremely positive, further experimental studies are required, and plans are now in place to continue the screening on a larger scale.