Tonic Water–A Source of Quinine

Tonic Water

Remember back in the day when your grandpa drank tonic water because he thought it relieved his cramps? You might remember sipping some and cringing at its bitter taste. However, sometimes what is old is new again. There are drugs being trialed today against covid-19 based on the humble cinchona tree. This tree, which is native to South America, gave us quinine which physicians used against Malaria and now to its new analogs Chloroquine Phosphate and Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate. These are real drugs (which work on viral entry into what is called the endosome-lysosome pathway), that must be given to you under supervision by health care providers. They can have lethal and devastating side-effects. Please do not self-medicate with these agents.

But, drinking quinine based tonic water with your meals, in moderation is safe and (some would argue) tasty. Please don’t view tonic water as a cure for covid-19 but it’s better than guzzling down a two-liter of sugary Coca Cola.

Here’s an abstract which you might enjoy!

Virus Res. 2018 Aug 15;255:171-178. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2018.07.018. Epub 2018 Jul 25.
Drug repurposing of quinine as antiviral against dengue virus infection.
Malakar S1, Sreelatha L2, Dechtawewat T3, Noisakran S4, Yenchitsomanus PT3, Chu JJH5, Limjindaporn T6.
Author information

Dengue virus (DENV) disease outbreaks continue to develop across the globe with significant associated mortality and economic burden, yet no treatment has been approved to combat this virus. In an attempt to identify novel drug candidates as therapeutics for DENV infection, we evaluated four US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs including aminolevullic acid, azelaic acid, mitoxantrone hydrochloride, and quinine sulfate, and tested their ability to inhibit DENV replication using focus-forming unit assay to quantify virus production. Of the four investigated compounds, quinine was found to have the most pronounced anti-DENV activity. Quinine inhibited DENV production of DENV by about 80% compared to untreated controls, while the other three drugs decreased virus production by only about 50%. Moreover, quinine inhibited DENV production of all four serotypes of DENV. Reduction in virus production was documented in three different cell lines of human origin. Quinine significantly inhibited DENV replication by reducing DENV RNA and viral protein synthesis in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, quinine ameliorated expression of genes related to innate immune response. These findings suggest the efficacy of quinine for stimulating antiviral genes to reduce DENV replication. The antiviral activity of quinine observed in this study may have applicability in the development of new drug therapies against DENV.

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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