Scientists find 3 existing drugs could fight COVID-19 infection

In a new study, researchers combed through a “library” of previously approved drugs and identified a drug with the potential to help speed a patient’s recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

They said the drug is on par with remdesivir and is much cheaper. Remdesivir is a relatively new antiviral medication that has been shown to shorten hospital stays for those recovering from the novel coronavirus.

The research was conducted by the University of New Mexico scientists and others.

In the study, the team reported that an older antimalarial drug called amodiaquine was effective in eradicating the virus in test-tube experiments.

It was one of three promising drug candidates identified in a process that entailed studying the molecular characteristics of about 4,000 drugs approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies.

The researchers hoped to find drugs that would target known vulnerabilities in the virus.

The other two drugs—an anti-psychotic called zuclophentixol and a blood pressure medication called nebivolol also cleared the virus in the experiments.

The researchers think any of these three drugs could be combined with remdesivir or a related antiviral drug called favipiravir to mount a more potent attack on the virus.

They say that combining two drugs could mean that lower doses of each could be administered, lessening the likelihood of adverse reactions.

Administering two drugs also makes it less likely that the virus would develop a mutation rendering it immune from the treatment.

Amodiaquine, first made in 1948, is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It has a good safety profile and is widely used in Africa to treat malaria. Zuclophentixol has been used to treat schizophrenia since the 1970s, while nebivolol has been used for hypertension since the late 1990s.

One author of the study is Tudor Oprea, MD, Ph.D., a professor of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The study is published in ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science.

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