A total of 69 drugs and experimental compounds which may be effective in treating COVD-19 have been identified by an international team, including scientists of Indian origin.
According to the researchers, some of the medications are already used in containing the diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and repurposing them to treat COVID-19 may be faster than trying to invent a new vaccine.
In the new study, published on the pre-print website bioRxiv, the scientists investigated 26 of the 29 coronavirus genes, which direct production of the viral proteins.
“The team took a different approach, targeting host proteins, not viral proteins. 26 out of 29 SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins were studied in human cells to find out what human proteins they interact with,” Gina T Nguyen, Assistant Director of Communications & Events, Quantitative Biosciences Institute, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US said.
Around 332 human proteins were found to interact with the SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins, the researchers, including Advait Subramanian, Srivats Venkataramanan, and Jyoti Batra, all from UCSF, said.
These are the proteins that the virus, which has killed over 2,1000 people and infected more than 4,71,000 globally so far, relies on to reproduce and carry out the infection in people, they said.
“69 drugs were identified that can target these proteins, of which 25 are already US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and could be used off-label.
“The drugs identified include those that are safely taken to treat conditions such as: Type II diabetes, cancer, and hypertension,” Nguyen said.
Some viral proteins seemed to target just one human protein, while others are capable of targeting a dozen human cellular proteins, the researchers explained.
They noted that there are currently no antiviral drugs with proven efficacy, nor are there vaccines for preventing COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, the scientific community has little knowledge of the molecular details of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the team wrote in an abstract.
The identification of host dependency factors mediating virus infection may provide key insights into effective molecular targets for developing broadly acting antiviral therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 and other deadly coronavirus strains, according to the researchers.
India entered day three of the 21-day lockdown on Friday with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reporting as many as 694 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
Out of these, as many as 633 are active cases, while 44 people have been treated for Covid-19 and discharged.
Maharashtra has the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by Kerala.
The infection has claimed 16 deaths in India with authorities recording five casualties owing to Covid-19 on Thursday, the same day the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed its first novel coronavirus-related death.