by Pooja Shete on  February 4, 2021 at 7:10 PM Drug News
Novel Antiviral Drug Discovered For COVID-19 Treatment
A novel antiviral property of a drug that could have major implications in how future epidemics / pandemics including Covid-19 are managed has been discovered by researchers. The drug thapsigargin is a promising broad spectrum antiviral, highly effective against Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), a common cold coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the influenza A virus.

The study conducted at University of Nottingham is published in the journal Viruses.

Acute respiratory virus infections are caused by different viruses and are clinically indistinguishable on presentation. The clinical management can be significantly improved by an effective broad-spectrum that can target different virus types at the same time. This type of antiviral could potentially be made available for community use to control active infection and its spread.


The study led by Professor Kin-Chow Chang and experts at the University of Nottingham (Schools of Veterinary Medicine and Sciences, Biosciences, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Chemistry) in collaboration with colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), China Agricultural University and the Pirbright Institute.

The team of experts found that at small doses, the plant-derived antiviral triggers a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centered antiviral innate immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses - including Covid-19.

The important features that make thapsigargin a promising antiviral are:
  • When used before or during active infection, the drug is effective against viral infection
  • For at least 48 hours after a single 30-minute exposure, the drug is able to prevent a virus from making new copies of itself in cells
  • As it is stable in the stomach, it can be given orally
  • Insensitive to virus resistance
  • Hundred-fold more effective than current antiviral options
  • Effective in blocking combined infection with COVID-19 and influenza A virus as in single-virus infection
  • Safe- a derivative of thapsigargin has been tested in prostate cancer
Professor Chang said, "Whilst we are still at the early stages of research into this antiviral and its impact on how viruses such as Covid-19 can be treated, these findings are hugely significant. The current pandemic highlights the need for effective antivirals to treat active infections, as well as vaccines, to prevent the infection. Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal to human (zoonotic) and reverse zoonotic (human to animal) spread take place, a new generation of antivirals, such as thapsigargin, could play a key role in the control and treatment of important viral infections in both humans and animals."

In humans and animals, influenza virus, COVID-19, and RSV are global pathogens. To control human and animal viruses thapsigargin is a lead compound in the development of a new generation of powerful host-centered antivirals (as opposed to conventional antiviral drugs that directly target viruses) that could even be adopted in a holistic "One Health" approach.

Professor Chang adds, "Although more testing is clearly needed, current findings strongly indicate that thapsigargin and its derivatives are promising antiviral treatments against COVID-19 and influenza virus, and have the potential to defend us against the next Disease X pandemic."

Source: Medindia

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