Coronavirus Progress: Study Identifies Two New Potential Drugs To Combat Disease

WASHINGTON — Over the relatively short span of COVID-19’s existence, there have already been a multitude of drugs put forth as a potential solution. Unfortunately, none so far have proven to be all that effective. Now, a new study has identified two new drugs that may help in the fight against the coronavirus. Both drugs are already FDA approved to treat other illnesses, which could considerably shorten the amount of time it takes for them to be accepted for COVID-19 treatment.

One drug, niclosamide, is usually used as an an anti-helminthic (anti-parasitic). The other drug, ciclesonide, is an inhaled corticosteroid used for asthma and allergic rhinitis.

To come to their conclusions, the research team behind this study screened 48 FDA-approved drugs against SARS-CoV-2. These two drugs showed the most promise at neutralizing the coronavirus. These tests were performed using Vero cells, or cells developed from the kidney cells of African Green Monkeys. These primate cells are frequently used to grow viruses for vaccine production.

Niclosamide showed “very potent” antiviral capabilities against SARS-CoV-2.

“Not surprisingly, its broad-spectrum antiviral effect has been well documented in the literature, including antiviral properties against SARS- and MERS-CoV,” the researchers, from Zoonotic Virus Laboratory, Institut Pasteur Korea, Seongnam, Korea, write in the study.

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However, niclosamide also has a drawback; a low absorption rate. This is a significant problem because it diminishes the drug’s effectiveness. Essentially, lower-than-intended doses make their way to the targeted viral tissue. However, there may a way to fix this.

“Further development or drug formulation could enable an effective delivery of this drug to the target tissue,” the study reads.

Meanwhile, ciclesonide also showed serious potential as a effective treatment, despite its much lower antiviral properties in comparison to niclosamide. An earlier study published this year that focused on three patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 revealed that ciclesonide appears to target the viral protein Nsp15.

“With its proven anti-inflammatory activity, ciclesonide may represent as a potent drug which can manifest [the] dual roles [of antiviral and anti-inflammatory] for the control of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” researchers conclude.

Ciclesonide’s anti-inflammatory properties may be what make it effective at subduing cytokine storms, a common immune inflammatory overreaction that has killed many COVID-19 patients.

The study is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 

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