In a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, scientists found that an inexpensive, readily available amino acid might limit the effects of COVID-19.
It may provide a new off-the-shelf therapeutic option for infections with SARS-CoV-2 variants and perhaps future novel coronaviruses.
In the study, the team found that an amino acid called GABA, which is available over the counter in many countries, reduced disease severity, viral load in the lungs, and death rates in SARS-CoV-2-infected mice.
This follows up on their previous finding that GABA consumption also protected mice from another lethal mouse coronavirus called MHV-1.
In both cases, GABA treatment was effective when given just after infection or several days later near the peak of virus production.
The protective effects of GABA against two different types of coronaviruses suggest that GABA may provide a generalizable therapy to help treat diseases induced by new SARS-CoV-2 variants and novel beta-coronaviruses.
Their previous studies showed that GABA administration protected mice from developing severe disease after infection with a mouse coronavirus called MHV-1.
Other scientists who study gas anesthetics have found that lung epithelial cells also possess GABA receptors and that drugs that activate these receptors could limit lung injuries and inflammation in the lung.
The dual actions of GABA in inflammatory immune cells and lung epithelial cells, along with its safety for clinical use, made GABA an appealing candidate for limiting overreactive immune responses and lung damage due to coronavirus infection.
The authors hope that their new findings will provide a springboard for testing the efficacy of GABA treatment in clinical trials with COVID-19 patients.
Since GABA has an excellent safety record, is inexpensive and available worldwide, clinical trials of GABA treatment for COVID-19 can be initiated rapidly.
The authors also suspect that the anti-inflammatory properties of GABA-receptor activating drugs may also be useful for limiting inflammation in the central nervous system that is associated with long-COVID.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about face mask that can capture and deactivate COVID-19 virus, and results showing Flu, COVID-19, and related vaccines may increase heart disease risk.
The study was conducted by Daniel L. Kaufman et al and published in Frontiers in Immunology.
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