LOS ANGELES: A global team of scientists has identified 21 existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Notably, four of these compounds were found to work synergistically with remdesivir, a current standard-of-care treatment for Covid-19, said the study published in the journal Nature.
“Remdesivir has proven successful at shortening the recovery time for patients in the hospital, but the drug doesn’t work for everyone who receives it. That’s not good enough,” said senior author of the study Sumit Chanda, Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in California, US.
In the study, the research team performed extensive testing and validation studies, including evaluating the drugs on human lung biopsies that were infected with the virus.They evaluated the drugs for synergies with remdesivir, and established dose-response relationships between the drugs and antiviral activity.Of the 21 drugs that were effective at blocking viral replication, the scientists found 13 have previously entered clinical trials for other indications and are effective at concentrations, or doses, that could potentially be safely achieved in Covid-19 patients.
Two are already approved by the US FDA: astemizole (allergies), clofazamine (leprosy) and remdesivir has received emergency use authorisation from the agency (Covid-19).Four worked synergistically with remdesivir, including the chloroquine derivative hanfangchin A (tetrandrine), an antimalarial drug that has reached Phase 3 clinical trial.
The researchers are currently testing all 21 compounds in small animal models and “mini lungs” or lung organoids, that mimic human tissue.If these studies are favourable, the team will approach the US FDA to discuss clinical trials evaluating the drugs as treatments for Covid-19.