Potential antiviral treatment for COVID-19 identified
Researchers have identified an antiviral drug that is highly effective against COVID-19 causing coronavirus and could have major implications on how future disease outbreaks are managed. The team, including researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, found that the plant-derived antiviral, at small doses, triggers a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centered antiviral innate immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
The antiviral targets three major types of human respiratory viruses
Given that acute respiratory virus infections caused by different viruses are clinically indistinguishable, an effective broad-spectrum that can target different virus types at the same time could significantly improve clinical management, the researchers said. According to the study, published in the journal Viruses, an antiviral of this type could potentially be made available for community use to control active infection and its spread.
What else does the research say about the antiviral?
"The key features based on cell and animal studies, which make thapsigargin a promising antiviral are that it is effective against viral infection when used before or during an active infection," the researchers said. The drug is also able to prevent a virus from making new copies of itself in cells for at least 48 hours after a single 30-minute exposure.
Thapsigargin can be administered orally; injections, hospital admission not needed
The researchers noted that thapsigargin is stable in acidic pH, as found in the stomach, and therefore can be taken orally. They said the drug could, therefore, be administered without the need for injections or hospital admission. It is not sensitive to virus resistance and is at least several hundred-fold more effective than current antiviral options, according to the study.
Such antivirals can control and treat infections in humans, animals
University of Nottingham Professor Kin-Chow Chang expressed these findings are hugely significant. "Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal to human (zoonotic) and reverse zoonotic 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," Chang added.Share this timeline