As the coronavirus epidemic in China continues to spread, having infected over 24,000 people so far, scientists around the world are competing for treatment. Most people infected with the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCov, have not received specific treatment for that virus because it doesn’t exist.
In fact, none of the few coronaviruses known to infect humans have approved treatment and infected people generally receive treatment primarily to relieve symptoms, according to the United States UU Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a handful of reused drugs, from drugs directed against Ebola to HIV, have already shown promising results, according to the new results.
Until recently, there were few effective antivirals, said Stephen Morse, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. This was especially true of RNA viruses, such as 2019-nCov and HIV, which use RNA, rather than DNA, as genetic material, Morse said.
This is changing.
“In recent years, perhaps encouraged by the successful development of antivirals for HIV, which has shown that more could be possible, our arsenal has expanded enormously,” said Morse. However, developing new drugs requires a huge investment of time and resources, he added. So, “pending the new miracle drug, it is worth looking for existing drugs that can be reused” to cure new viruses, Morse told Live Science.
This is exactly the path taken by doctors to treat a 35-year-old man in Washington state, the first American patient. UU. He was infected with the new coronavirus. When his symptoms worsened, the man received an unapproved antiviral drug called remdesivir which was originally developed to treat Ebola, according to a clinical case published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 31.
Doctors gave this drug to the patient by submitting a “compassionate use” request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which allows experimental drugs to be administered to people outside of clinical trials, usually in emergency situations. The patient, who was recently discharged from the hospital, does not appear to have experienced any side effects of the drug.
In animal models, scientists have found that remdesivir can drop similar coronaviruses, such as those that cause Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Despite its use in an emergency, the drug “has not proven safe or effective for any use,” said Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company that is developing the drug.
Viral battles in the laboratory.
Recently, a team of researchers tested a number of antivirals in the laboratory for their effectiveness against the new coronavirus. They found that remdesivir prevented the virus from replicating on a laboratory plate. Likewise, the team found that chloroquine, an approved and widely used autoimmune and antimalarial drug, was also effective in blocking the spread of the virus in human cells in the laboratory, the researchers reported in a brief published letter. on February 4 in the journal Cell Research. Furthermore, both drugs were effective in low concentrations and neither was highly toxic to human cells.