In a recent study from UCL and elsewhere, researchers found that the antiviral drug plitidepsin is between 10 and 100 times more effective against SARS-CoV-2, including the new UK variant than drug remdesivir.
They tested the efficacy of the drug plitidepsin on the newly identified UK variant mutant strain B.1.1.7.
The researchers found plitidepsin was around 10 times more potent than remdesivir in vitro (in human epithelial cells) – at reducing B.1.1.7 infectivity.
The study is published in bioRxiv. One author of the study is Associate Professor Clare Jolly.
Plitidepsin, also known as Aplidin, is a novel drug approved by the Australian Regulatory Agency for the treatment of multiple myeloma, and is part of numerous other Phase II/III clinical cancer trials around the world.
In a previous U.S. study, the team screened numerous clinically approved drugs, in order to identify those with inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2.
Specifically they were looking for ‘host-directed therapies,” those which target host (human) proteins, rather than virus proteins, which are usually targeted to inhibit infection.
They found that plitidepsin was 27.5 times more potent than remdesivir in vitro, at inhibiting (preventing further infection) SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
This research was also carried out in vitro—in cells in the laboratory, not in patients.
In addition, that study found that plitidepsin was 100 times more effective than remdesivir at reducing the viral replication in the lungs and demonstrated an ability to reduce lung inflammation—one of the most serious side effects of COVID-19.
This element was conducted in vitro in an established mouse model of human lung cells.
The UCL study only studied the UK variant and found comparable anti-viral activity in vitro against B.1.1.7.
These studies show plitidpesin is a highly potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2, and is much more effective than the widely approved remdesivir against both early and more recent lineages of the virus.
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