Drug repurposing could be a solution to the novel coronavirus, says Norwegian professor

March 4, 2020

There are about 89,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,000 people have died from the illness, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus following an outbreak in the central city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Lately, infection has been rampant in other countries like South Korea, Italy, Iran, and France; however, physicians and health professionals cannot effectively treat it without a cure. Research helmed by the University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway,is now looking at repurposing several existing drugs to treat the novel coronavirus.

European-based researchers have reviewed a range of existing broad-spectrum antiviral drugs and summarised information on 119 “safe-in-man” antiviral agents, called broad-spectrum antiviral agents (BSAAs). BSAAs are compounds that target viruses “belonging to two or more viral families” – one drug could potentially target several different viruses at once, instead of the paradigm of one drug targeting one virus only.

With BSAAs, crucial details are already available, according to NTNU Associate Professor Denis Kainov, “In the future, BSAAs will have global impact by decreasing morbidity/mortality from viral and other diseases, maximising the number of healthy life years, improving quality of life, and decreasing costs of patient care.”

In addition, the researchers insist that drug repurposing for treating COVID-19 provides “a significantly reduced cost and timeline to clinical availability.”

Doctors do not usually recommend using antibiotics to treat viruses, but the researchers did find a handful of potential candidatesthat could be repurposed as antiviral agents, including teicoplanin, oritavancin, dalbavancin, and monensin – these are approved antibiotics that have been shown to inhibit corona- and other viruses in the laboratory.

The researchers add that drugs like remdesivir have already been shown to “effectively inhibit 2019-nCoV virus infection in-vitro” and opted to provide their findings in an open access database. The database contains tables, heat maps, and word clouds of the antivirals that could help treat COVID-19.

Tags: ,

Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

Comments are closed.