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New drug cocktail appears capable of stopping SARS-CoV-2 infections before the virus takes root

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The findings, published in the journal Viruses, has found a new drug combo showing strong potential against COVID-19 in preliminary animal and cell culture studies.

The cocktail, a combination of nafamostat and Pegasys (IFN), also meets all availability and efficacy requirements.

More particular, this new drug cocktail appears to be capable of halting SARS-CoV-2 infections before they can take hold.

“This combination effectively suppresses the infection,” said Professor Denis Kainov at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine (IKOM), in a media release.

The drug mix has been tested on hamsters and cell cultures so far. These preliminary findings are not conclusive evidence that the mixture will be successful in humans. Nonetheless, researchers believe the work thus far is a “good sign”.

A hepatitis drug for SARS-COV-2?

Nafamostat, one of the components of the combo, is already in use as a monotherapy against COVID-19 and is undergoing a second phase of testing in Japan and other countries. Pegasys (IFN) is primarily used to treat hepatitis C.

“Both drugs attack a factor in our cells called TMPRSS2, which plays a critical role in viral replication,” said Magnar Bjørås, a professor in the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine.

Even better, only a small amount of the drug combination is required to provide the desired protective effect.

“The low doses of the drugs in combination may have several clinical advantages including fewer adverse events and improved outcomes for patients,” noted Aleksandr Ianevski, a doctoral research fellow affiliated with the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine.

In summary, the authors of this study are optimistic that this novel medicine combination may soon save lives and significantly improve the overall quality of life for COVID-19 patients. In terms of price, Nafamostat is reasonably inexpensive, but Pegasys (IFN) is slightly more expensive.

The study is published in the journal Viruses. 

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