This gout drug could help treat COVID-19

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket across the U.S. and the world, few options are available for treating patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2.

In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers offer hope for a viable therapeutic to combat the disease that has claimed more than 4 million lives worldwide.

They found that the drug probenecid has broad antiviral properties, making it a prime candidate to combat not only SARS-CoV-2 infection but also other common and deadly respiratory viruses like RSV and flu.

The study is from the University of Georgia. One author is Ralph Tripp.

Probenecid is an FDA-approved medication that’s primarily used to treat gout, and it’s already widely available in the U.S. The drug has been on the market for over 40 years and has minimal side effects.

Viruses work by coopting a person’s own cells to replicate and produce more of the virus. Probenecid blocks that replication process, keeping the virus from infecting the individual’s cells.

In the study, the team showed the drug works as prevention prior to virus exposure and as a post-exposure treatment in animal models against SARS-CoV-2 and flu.

Although the drug would primarily be used after a person is positive for the virus, the prevention findings mean people with known exposures could also potentially take the drug to prevent getting sick.

The team says the current go-to treatments for seriously ill COVID-19 patients, remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies, can only be given through an IV. And by the time a COVID patient needs them, it’s often too late.

These treatments have seen some effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, but they’re very expensive and very hard to come by.

Probenecid, on the other hand, is widely available. Primary care physicians could prescribe a pill to patients, and they could pick it up at their local drugstore.

Repurposing drugs that are already approved to work against one problem is common. For example, remdesivir was originally intended to fight Ebola virus, but when it showed some promise in fighting the coronavirus, it was enlisted to battle COVID-19.

In addition to preventing illness before it starts, probenecid may also potentially increase the efficacy of other treatments.

Probenecid is already used to up the potency of some antibiotics, so it’s possible the medication could work in conjunction with other COVID-19 treatments as well.

Now the researchers are testing what dosage of probenecid could have the biggest impact fighting viruses in people.

If you care about COVID and your health, please read studies about this cholesterol-lowering drug could reduce COVID-19 infection by up to 70% and findings of this may play a crucial role in COVID-19 transmission.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about this study shows 16 drugs that could treat COVID-19 and results showing a new way to prevent broad range of COVID-19 variants.

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