Breakthrough COVID treatment grown in Canberra, product could be available in 18 months | Canberra time


In the quiet greenhouses of Yarralumla, an amazing plant grows: it seems to be one of the cures for COVID. Scientists have isolated a substance in a eucalyptus tree which they believe can be treated and given to patients with lung problems – such as those with long COVID. The plants are being grown in the ACT government nursery to be turned into what could become relief from the worst symptoms of the disease plaguing the planet. This natural treatment (with a scientific basis) has already received preliminary approvals from regulators before being tested on humans. The substance in the plants – pinocembrine – has been tested on sheep with good results. The next step is to try it on humans. Sheep with lung disease improved after treatment with the substance. Those who weren’t treated weren’t. Pinocembrin is found elsewhere in nature. It’s in honey, for example, but in such small amounts that it can’t be harvested medicinally from humans (although bees can benefit from it). The breakthrough with eucalyptus is finding a plant that is easy to grow and can be harvested for substance. The role of the Yarralumla nursery is to grow it in lots large enough to transport to scientists for development. If the expected trial results change the current amber light to green, a product would be available in inhalers within 18 months to two years. People with long-term COVID would literally breathe easier. “Nature is the greatest scientist in the world,” said Alistair Cumming, chief executive of the GRETALS company behind the project. The company he founded has partnered with Canberra Tree Nursery and scientists from the University of Melbourne, Monash University and Swinburne University of Technology. “All we have to do is work with people like Yarralumla, with universities, with government help to be able to find these compounds that don’t have major adverse side effects and have huge opportunities “said Mr Cumming. The compound in the leaves had a lot of potential, he said. He welcomed the first results of the trials and the reaction of the regulatory authorities. When the compound was given to sick sheep, they found it had anti-inflammatory effects (relieving swelling in the airways so the lungs could work better). COVID attacks the lungs and in the worst case makes people feel like they are drowning. Vaccines help prevent people from getting COVID, but scientists are also looking for drugs that stop its worst effects – like the substance grown in Yarralumla. READ MORE: Researchers have also found that the substance can slow the healing of the lungs, which is another terrible and potentially deadly effect of COVID. The research showed that “pinocembrine, derived from Australian eucalyptus trees, has strong anti-inflammatory properties and may be safe and effective in treating pulmonary fibrosis in sheep, a large animal model of human lung disease,” according to the researchers. from the University of Melbourne. For the project, the plants are grown in Yarralumla under the supervision of Tracey Bool. “It’s a beautiful, reliable plant – quite simple,” she said. She said plant growth was aided by a seaweed extract “to make sure they are happy”. Despite her low-key and patient approach, she said she was “excited” about the project and its implications. “We feel like we’re part of something special. The potential is huge. It’s more than exciting.” Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT is available to everyone free of charge. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you can, please register here. If you are already subscribed, thank you for your support. You can also subscribe to our newsletters for regular updates. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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