Molluscs, comprising one of the most successful phyla, lack clear evidence of adaptive immunity and yet thrive in the oceans, which are rich in viruses. There are thought to be nearly 120,000 species of Mollusca, most living in marine habitats. Despite the extraordinary abundance of viruses in oceans, molluscs often have very long life spans (10 to 100 years). Thus, their innate immunity must be highly effective at countering viral infections. Antiviral compounds are a crucial component of molluscan defenses against viruses and have diverse mechanisms of action against a wide variety of viruses, including many that are human pathogens. Antiviral compounds found in abalone, oyster, mussels, and other cultured molluscs are available in large supply, providing good opportunities for future research and development. However, most members of the phylum Mollusca have not been examined for the presence of antiviral compounds. The enormous diversity and adaptations of molluscs imply a potential source of novel antiviral compounds for future drug discovery.
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