A drug used to treat coronavirus infections in cats may soon be used to treat Covid-19 in humans, after researchers showed the drug works against the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus in laboratory experiments.
“In just two months, our results have shown that the drug is effective at inhibiting viral replication in cells with SARS-CoV-2,” said Joanne Lemieux, a professor of biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta in Canada.
The research published in Nature Communications looks at two very similar drugs called GC373 and GC376. Both work by inhibiting proteases, a type of enzyme widely found in several types of living thing including viruses and humans. Proteases work by breaking down proteins into smaller building blocks. Protease inhibitors stop, or slow down this process, limiting replication in some viruses. Several protease inhibitors are FDA-approved for treating HIV and researchers are hoping that they might work in a similar way on the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus.
The team infected monkey cells and human lung cells with the SARS-CoV2 virus in dishes in the lab and tested the tested the protease inhibitors on them, finding they were very effective at stopping the virus replicating.
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