Scientists Identify 69 Drugs, Experimental Compounds That May Be Effective Against Coronavirus

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A team of international researchers, including scientists of Indian origin, has identified 69 drugs and experimental compounds that may be effective in treating the Coronavirus patients, reports Times of India.

Some of the medications are already used to treat other diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and repurposing them to treat Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, may be faster than trying to invent a new antiviral from scratch, the scientists said.

In the new study, which has been published in the pre-print website bioRxiv, the scientists investigated 26 of the coronavirus’s 29 genes, which direct production of the viral proteins.

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"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) was quoted as saying.

The researcher found 332 human proteins targeted by the coronavirus. Some viral proteins seemed to target just one human protein; other viral proteins are capable of targeting a dozen human cellular proteins.

According to the report, the coronavirus relies on these proteins to reproduce and carry out the infection in the people.

The researchers, including Advait Subramanian, Srivats Venkataramanan, and Jyoti Batra (all from USCF), sought drugs that also latch onto the human proteins that the coronavirus seems to need to enter and replicate in human cells.

"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

According to the researchers, 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 (Covid-19) and other deadly Coronavirus strains.

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