Abigail Klein Leichman
February 25, 2021, Updated March 3, 2021

An extract of Spirulina blue-green algae may help Covid-19 patients avoid getting seriously ill, according to a study by Israeli and Icelandic scientists published in the journal Marine Biotechnology.

“The potential health benefits of Spirulina are well documented,” the authors noted. “This blue-green algae contains C-phycocyanin (C-PC), a pigment-binding protein, which enhances antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and anti-tumor activities.”

The scientists found that an extract of photosynthetically enhanced Spirulina reduces by 70 percent the release of an immune-system protein that can cause a cytokine storm in the lungs leading to acute respiratory distress and organ damage.

It is believed that cytokine storms are responsible for critical cases of Covid-19.

The research was conducted at MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in northern Israel using algae grown at a lab in Iceland by Israeli company Vaxa, which received European Union funding to explore natural treatments for Covid-19.

“This indicates that the algae extract may be used to prevent cytokine storms if given to patients soon after diagnosis,” said co-lead author Asaf Tzachor, a biotechnology researcher at IDC Herzliya who is currently leading the Food Security and Global Catastrophic Risks Project at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University.

The other co-lead author is Or Rozen from MIGAL. Contributing authors include Soliman Khatib and Dorit Avi from MIGAL and Sophie Jensen from MATIS – Food and Biotech Research and Development, Reykjavík.

Clinical trials are planned next, with the goal of formulating oral spirulina drops.

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