This file image shows an illustration of the coronavirus. 

Nations are working to keep citizens safe from the coronavirus and doctors in Michigan are working to develop an anti-viral medication.

More than 24,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide.

Experts at the University of Michigan are developing a drug to combat the virus and one of the components is a popular fruit.

“It’s not always clear why a specific virus at a specific time jumps out from animals and starts wreaking havoc with humans,” said David Markovitz, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan.

Markovitz said the current strain of the coronavirus is something to take seriously. He said he’s specialized in the infectious disease division for 31-years.

Markovitz said there are many types of coronaviruses, most notably SARS or MERS.

“SARS and MERS are both more deadly, but they are less transmissible, so the problem with the present one is it sees to be readily transmissible from person to person and that’s why it’s a big problem,” Markovitz said.

He said they have begun the first steps of some exploratory research to develop an anti-viral drug.

“We published a large paper in 2015 with 26 authors from five different countries talking about how we took a protein from bananas and actually modified it so that it would be, retain its anti-viral activity,” Markovitz said.

He said the protein is called Banlec saw success against some viruses as well as some cancer cells. He’s hoping it could have the same effect on the current coronavirus.

“There are multiple reasons to develop this drug and it looks like, in studies, we have a very fine collaboration in Hong Kong who’s shown that this is highly effective against the MERS-coronavirus in animals and the lab and against every other coronavirus tested so far,” Markovitz said.

Markovitz said further testing of Banlec will take place over the next couple of weeks, and although it’s very early in the process, he’s hoping it will be useful.

“This is very early on, so we don’t want to say that this is going to cure the problem next week or anything like that. But we are hopeful that it will be helpful as we advance,” Markovitz said.

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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