WASHINGTON: An Indian-origin researcher in the US and his team have identified four antiviral drugs — including remdesivir that was originally developed to treat Ebola — which may be effective in inhibiting the replication of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Kamlendra Singh, an associate professor at the University of Missouri in the US, and his colleagues used computer-aided drug design to examine the effectiveness of remdesivir, 5-fluorouracil, ribavirin and favipiravir in treating COVID-19.
The study, published in the journal Pathogens, found that all four drugs were effective in inhibiting, or blocking, the coronavirus’ RNA proteins from making genomic copies of the novel coronavirus.
“As researchers, we have an obligation to search for possible treatments given that so many people are dying from this virus,” Singh said.
“These antiviral drugs, if they turn out to be effective, all have some limitations. But in the midst of a global pandemic, they are worth taking a deeper look at because based on our research, we have reason to believe that all of these drugs could potentially be effective in treating COVID-19,” he said.
The researchers noted that SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, like all viruses, can mutate and develop resistance to antiviral drugs.
Further testing in a laboratory setting and in patients is needed to better evaluate how the proposed treatments interact with the virus’ RNA polymerase, they said.
“Our goal is to help doctors by providing options for possible treatments of COVID-19, and to ultimately contribute in improving the health outcomes of patients suffering from the infectious disease,” Singh said.
“As researchers, we are simply playing our part in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.