COVID-19 continues to claim lives around the world and is infecting millions more.
Although several vaccines have recently become available, making significant strides towards preventing COVID-19, what about the treatment of those who already have the infection?
Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, highlighting the need—now more than ever—for effective antiviral therapeutics.
Moreover, some people can’t receive vaccines due to health issues, and new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that can penetrate vaccine-conferred immunity, are being reported, indicating that we need to think beyond prevention.
In a new study from the Tokyo University of Science, researchers found a drug combo that may cure COVID-19 together.
The team first established an experimental system for screening drugs that may help to control infections. This system used a type of cells called VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells, which were manipulated to efficiently be infected with and produce SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers used this experimental system to screen a panel of drugs that are already approved for clinical use, including drugs like remdesivir and chloroquine that have already being approved or are being trialed as treatments for COVID-19.
In an exciting outcome, they found two drugs that provided effective SARS-CoV-2 suppression: cepharanthine, which is used to treat inflammation, and nelfinavir, which is approved for the treatment of HIV infection.
Cepharanthine inhibited the entry of the virus into cells by preventing the virus from binding to a protein on the cell membrane, which it uses as a gateway.
In contrast, nelfinavir worked to prevent the virus from replicating inside the cell by inhibiting a protein that the virus relies on for replication.
Given that these drugs have distinct antiviral mechanisms, using both of them together could be especially effective for patients.
Computational models predicting that combined cepharanthine/nelfinavir therapy can hasten the clearance of SARS-CoV-2 from a patient’s lungs by as few as 4.9 days.
These findings justify further research into the clinical potential of cepharanthine/nelfinavir therapy, and only following this can we say for sure that it is useful and helpful.
The team hopes the development of cepharanthine/nelfinavir therapy may provide clinicians and patients with a much-needed new treatment option.
If you care about COVID-19 drugs, please read studies about common diabetes drug could strongly cut COVID-19 death risk and findings of this very common drug for heart disease may reduce COVID-19 risk.
For more information about COVID-19 treatment, please see recent studies about this new drug 10 times more effective fighting COVID-19 and results showing that this drug holds promise as at-home treatment for COVID-19.
The study is published in iScience. One author of the study is Professor Kouji Kuramochi.
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