The particular mechanism with which the body naturally breaks down and prevents infection from lethal infections including Ebola, HIV, HCV and SARS has gradually emerged. The mechanism is called mannose-binding lectins.
Mannose-binding lectins are apparently produced in the human body via a DNA sequence, called the MBL2. When this part of our genes is in order, the body will produce and release these mannose-binding lectins into the bloodstream.
This brings us to the fun part. Yes, humans aren’t the only critters that produce mannose-binding lectins. Red algae also produce these profusely, which allow the algae to protect themselves from invasion by viruses.
The most promising form of mannose-binding lectins is a component of the Scytonema varium red algae called Scytovirin. The protein extract was isolated by researchers from the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, Maryland in 2003. The protein contains 95 amino acids, and was found to bind to HIV-1 viral shells.
As modern medical researchers continually strive for isolated and synthesized versions of nature able to be patented, recombinant versions of Griffithsin were eventually produced using Nicotiana benthamiana plants (a relative of the tobacco plant). These plants were genetically modified so they would produce the same mannose-binding lectins