Anti-viral activities of selected Kenyan medicinal plants against the hepatitis - B virus
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is a human pathogen causing serious liver disease. The virus is the major cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. It is endemic in many parts of the world especially in Asia and Africa, and an estimated 2 billion people are infected, with over 600,000 dying each year. Kenya has been considered among high endemic areas for HBV infection with upward trends of sero-prevalence among blood donors being observed. Although immunization against HBV has been widely used, current medicines for the management of HBV infection in humans are few, limited in efficacy and relatively expensive, making them unavailable to most of the needy cases, especially those in developing countries. The resistance to these agents is also spreading fast. The search for new therapeutic agents for HBV infections is an ongoing effort and a number of researchers are now paying attention to active anti-viral compounds from natural products including plants because of their widespread use in developing countries and the large repertoire that has not been systematically investigated. The plants in this study were mainly chosen based on previous studies on their anti-viral activity. They exhibit activity against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Herpes Simplex Virus and Cytomegalovirus and were therefore highly postulated to have anti - HBV activity. They were also chosen based on their ethno-pharmacologicaluse including relief of symptoms associated with viral infections.