New studies have shown that taking acyclovir, a commonly used drug for treating genital herpes shows better results when it’s combined with activated charcoal. Acyclovir can be taken orally in the form of tablets or applied topically. However, it tends to damage your kidneys over time, so it’s better to reduce its usage. And, activated charcoal helps in achieving that.
Charcoal, which is made up essentially of carbons, is known as a good absorbent of toxins. The carbon present in activated charcoal is safe to consume, because it’s non-toxic. This is the reason it’s used in water filters.
A team led by University of Illinois, Chicago conducted a study based on the above facts. The dilutions of the material were applied to cells in the lab, which were then exposed to the two types of the herpes virus, simplex 1 and simplex 2. These treated cells had 40 to 60 per cent less chances of being infected, in comparison with cells without carbon.
Then, the researchers combined acyclovir and activated carbon to form a solution. This was applied to the afflicted genitals of mice, who had been infected with the herpes virus (both the types were included). The test showed that a mixture of carbon and acyclovir was more effective in reducing inflammation and lessening the viral load, compared to acyclovir alone. This implied that the needed effect of the drug could be achieved with fewer doses.
Tejabhiram Yadavalli, who led the experiment with Prof Deepak Shukla said, “We think that the charcoal releases particles of acyclovir slowly over time because the herpes virus, as well as other organic molecules and particles, are more attracted to the charcoal than the drug, and as these particles interact with the charcoal they displace and release the drug. The activated carbon acts like a slow-release drug capsule. Because it likes to bind with the virus, this gives it additional anti-viral properties.”
New Atlas states that this cost-effective technology has been called DECON (Drug Encapsulated Carbon). It’s been described in a paper published in the journal Science Advances.