In a recent study published in Science Advances, researchers have identified 200 approved drugs predicted to work against COVID-19—of which only 40 are currently being tested in COVID-19 clinical trials.
The study is from the University of Cambridge. One author is Professor Tony Kouzarides.
In the study, the team used a combination of computational biology and machine learning to create a comprehensive map of proteins that are involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection.
By examining this network using artificial intelligence (AI) approaches, they were able to identify key proteins involved in the infection as well as biological pathways that might be targeted by drugs.
To date, the majority of small molecule and antibody approaches for treating COVID-19 are drugs that are either currently the subject of clinical trials or have already been through clinical trials and been approved.
Much of the focus has been on several key viruses or host targets, or on pathways—such as inflammation—where a drug treatment could be used as an intervention.
The team used computer modeling to carry out a ‘virtual screen’ of almost 2,000 approved drugs and identified 200 approved drugs that could be effective against COVID-19.
Forty of these drugs have already entered clinical trials, which the researchers argue supports the approach they have taken.
When the researchers tested a subset of those drugs implicated in viral replication, they found that two in particular—an antimalarial drug and a type of medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis—were able to inhibit the virus, providing initial validation of their data-driven approach.
The team found sulfasalazine (used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease) and proguanil (and antimalarial drug) reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral replication in cells, raising the possibility of their potential use to prevent infection or to treat COVID-19.
The findings provide new information about the mechanisms underlying COVID-19 and some promising drugs that might be repurposed for either treating or preventing infection.
The researchers hope this resource of potential drugs will accelerate the development of new drugs against COVID-19.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about a strong link between COVID and this brain disease and findings of this new vaccine can block COVID-19 and variants, plus other coronaviruses.
For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about people with this heart problem 5 times more likely to die in COVID-19 and results showing that COVID-19 may strongly change your brain.
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