Israeli lab: Some existing drugs can stop Covid almost 100%

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Israeli lab: Some existing drugs can stop Covid almost 100%

Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they have identified several drugs that could help treat, if not “cure,” people who develop COVID-19.

Professor Shi Arkin, a biochemist at the Alexander Silbermann Institute of Life Sciences, told Jerusalem Post That in lab tests in which cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 were placed with drugs for two days, “almost 100% of the cells survived despite being infected with the virus.”

In contrast, without the pre-existing drug compounds, about 50% of the cells died after contact with the virus.

Arkin and his team selected through a library of more than 2,800 compounds approved for use, and identified 18 drugs they felt could be effective. In an unpublished work, the researchers were able to show that several of these compounds “demonstrated remarkable efficacy against the whole virus in laboratory experiments.”

Two of them are darabladib, used to treat atherosclerosis, and flumatinib, used to treat some types of leukemia. Arkin said he was reluctant to release the names of any of the drugs, adding that he couldn’t recommend them until they had undergone appropriate clinical trials.

The team focused on drug reuse to accelerate any future regulatory steps. Since the drugs are already used for other indications, their toxicity and side effects, for example, are known and approved.

The way the drugs work is by inhibiting two targets in the virus: the E (envelope) protein and the 3a protein.

The E protein is the most conserved of all virus proteins. For example, while the spiky proteins of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 (the 2003 virus) are only 75% identical, their E proteins are approximately 95% similar. This means that the drugs will likely remain effective even when the virus mutates, Arkin said Mail.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines target the spike protein.

at Previous studiesProteins E and 3a have been shown to be essential for viral infection. Arkin’s team was among the first to study the E protein of the first SARS coronavirus in 2004.

As part of more than two decades of research by the Arkin team, they have identified that the E protein is an ion channel, a type of a protein family expressed by nearly all living cells that, due to its structure, have been “excellent and frequent” targets for pharmaceutical point interventions, including Cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, arrhythmia, neurodegenerative disease, high blood pressure, angina pectoris, and more, the report said.

Arkin said it was important to have a “large arsenal” of drugs to fight SARS-CoV-2.

“We should not be in a situation where we only have one firearm in our arsenal,” he said. “If we only had one and only depended on it, then there would come a time when it failed, we would be in a very precarious situation.”

Arkin believes his team is ready for in vitro and in vivo studies, and is looking for a pharmaceutical partner to help carry out these trials.

Citing Gilead’s success in obtaining FDA approval for Remdesivir in record time at the start of the pandemic, Arkin said he is optimistic that at least some of these compounds can be approved for use against COVID “very quickly with the right partner.”

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