U.S. researchers find drug blocks severe COVID-19 symptoms in mice, including variants


U.S. researchers have discovered a drug that could potentially be a game-changing tool in treating COVID-19 patients, including variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Researchers affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania have found that the drug diABZI was highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms in mice that were infected with multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants, as described in their paper published in Science Immunology on May 18.

The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 hides to avoid the activation of interferons, which are proteins that signal the presence of a virus, in the respiratory tract’s epithelial cells. This results in a delayed immune response, which allows the virus to infect the respiratory tract.

A total of 129 mice with COVID-19 were treated with diABZI. When measured against a control group, the mice that had been treated with the drug saw less weight loss and a lower viral load.

“Few drugs have been identified as game-changers in blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection. This paper is the first to show that activating an early immune response therapeutically with a single dose is a promising strategy for controlling the virus, including the South African variant B.1.351,” said senior author Dr. Sara Cherry, a pathology and laboratory medicine professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in a news release.