by Chhavi Madaan | 2020-07-25

An advance that may lead to the development of new therapeutic combinations against the coronavirus pandemic has been identified by scientists including those of Indian – origin as 21 existing drugs that stop the reproduction of the coronavirus in lab studies. A study published in journal Nature reveals that 21 of these drugs are productive in restricting the replication of the coronavirus at concentrations that could be safely achieved in patients.

One of the world’s largest collections of known drugs for their ability to block the duplication of the unique coronavirus has been analyzed by the researchers, inclusive of those from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in the US who have also found 100 molecules with confirmed antiviral activity in laboratory tests.

 In the study, extensive testing and validation studies have been performed by scientists including evaluation of the drugs on human lung biopsies that were infected with the virus, evaluation of the drugs for synergies with remdesivir, and establishment of dose-response relationships between the drugs and antiviral activity who have found that 13 out of the 21 drugs that were effective at blocking viral replication and constructive at doses have previously entered clinical trials for other indications that have a potential to be achieved safely in Covid-19 patients. 

As said by them, two namely astemizole (allergies), clofazimine (leprosy) has been already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and remdesivir has received Emergency Use Authorization from the agency with which four of the drugs worked synergistically including the chloroquine derivative hanfangchin A (tetrandrine), an antimalarial drug that has reached Phase 3 clinical trials. 

The testing of all 21 compounds in small animal models and “mini lungs,” or lung organoids, that mimic human tissue is being currently done by researchers and if these studies are favorable, the team will approach the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for discussing a clinical trial(s) for evaluating the drugs as treatments for Covid-19.

According to Sumit Chanda, director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys and senior author of the study informed that the drug remdesivir has proven successful at shortening the recovery time for patients in the hospital, but it doesn’t work for all, as there is an urgent need to get affordable, effective and readily available drugs that could complement the use of remdesivir as well as drugs that could be given prophylactically or at the first sign of infection on an outpatient basis. He added based on our current analysis, clofazimine, hanfangchin A, apilimod, and ONO 5334 represent the best near-term options for an effective Covid-19 treatment.

Scientists consider that the drugs were first identified by a rapid screening of more than 12,000 drugs from the ReFRAME drug repurposing collection which they said is a comprehensive drug repurposing collection of compounds approved by the FDA for other diseases, or tested extensively for human safety.


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