Broad-spectrum antiviral activities within indigenous Pacific traditional medicines

Pacific Kia Niwha Leader Fellow
DR NATALIE NETZLER

Natalie Netzler photo v2
Principal Investigator
Dr Natalie Netzler (Ngaati Hamoa, Ngaati Hauaa)
University of Auckland (Waipapa Taumata Rau)
Public Contact
Te Niwha
teniwhacomms@otago.ac.nz
Project Timeframe/Status
-
In Process

Whakarāpopoto Rangahau Summary of Research

Priority Theme: Therapeutics
Discipline: Medical virology

Over many centuries, indigenous healers across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa region, including Aotearoa New Zealand, have developed effective traditional medicines that are still widely used today. Traditional healers are often more trusted and accessible than clinical doctors in remote Pacific villages, with many lacking a hospital.

Studies have found anti-inflammatory, anti-HIV and anti-bacterial activities within indigenous Pacific medicines, but few studies examine antiviral activities against contemporary respiratory viral threats, such as SARS-CoV-2, which caused the recent COVID-19 pandemic, measles, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Dr Natalie Netzler will explore traditional medicines suitable for treating respiratory infection through an existing collaboration with taulāsea (traditional Samoan healers). She will screen medicinal plant extracts for antiviral activities against viruses including SARS-CoV-2, RSV and influenza.

Through the collaboration with Samoan healers and scientists, unpublished preliminary data shows potential for two traditional Samoan medicines to treat COVID-19, warranting further investigation.

Indigenous and Western medicines are often used simultaneously but little is known about the effectiveness of combinations. Where clinical antivirals are available, such as Paxlovid for COVID-19, Dr Netzler will examine their combination with traditional antivirals to see if they are effective when combined, or if they cancel out each other’s activities.

He Kōtaha Kairangahau Researcher Profile

Dr Natalie Netzler (Ngaati Hamoa, Ngaati Hauaa)
Principal Investigator
University of Auckland (Waipapa Taumata Rau)

Dr Natalie Netzler is a New Zealand born Sāmoan (Moto’otua) and Māori (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Hauā) virologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and an Associate Researcher of the Maurice Wilkins Centre. She holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales in Australia, and has several years experience developing antivirals and vaccines to combat viral infections from both biotech and academic settings.  

Currently, Dr Netzler’s research is focused on broad-spectrum antiviral discovery and development, and how the unique genetics of Pacific and Māori populations impact the immune response. She also has a keen interest in the antiviral properties of traditional medicines from across the Pacific. Dr Netzler volunteers her spare time for infectious disease education with Pacific and Māori communities. 

Project Status

In Process

 

Media Contact 

Te Niwha
teniwhacomms@otago.ac.nz