- The cell-wall sulphated polysaccharide of the red microalga Porphyridium sp. has impressive antiviral activity against Herpessimplex viruses types 1 and 2 (HSV 1, 2) and Varicella zoster virus(VZV). Treatment of cells with 1 μg mL-1 polysaccharideresulted in 50% inhibition of HSV-infection as measured by the plaqueassay. Inhibition of the production of new virus particles was also shownwhen pre-infected cell cultures were treated with the polysaccharide. Inaddition, there was indirect evidence for a strong interaction between thepolysaccharide and HSV and a weak interaction with the cell surface.Depending on the concentration, the polysaccharide completely inhibitedor slowed down the development of the cytopathic effect in HSV or VZVpreinfected cells, but did not show any cytotoxic effects on Vero cells evenwhen a concentration as high as 250 μg mL-1 was used. Itseems therefore that the polysaccharide is able to inhibit viral infection bypreventing adsorption of virus into the host cells and/or by inhibiting theproduction of new viral particles inside the host cells. Thus, this alga seems tobe a good candidate for the development of an antiviral drug.