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Scientists unveil a highly effective antiviral remedy against COVID-19

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A team of scientists have discovered a new antiviral property of a drug that has the potential to be effective against viruses including COVID-19

A new antiviral property of a drug that may have major implications linked to the management of future epidemics or pandemics, including COVID-19, has been discovered by the researchers of the University of Nottingham, England.

As suggested by a study published in Viruses, a broad-spectrum antiviral called thapsigargin is highly effective against viruses such as COVID-19 virus (SARS-COV-2) a common cold coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the influenza A virus.

Considering the fact that acute respiratory virus infections which are caused by different viruses cannot be clinically distinguished, an effective broad-spectrum that is capable of targeting different types of the virus at the same time can appreciably improve clinical management. An antiviral carrying such properties can be potentially provided at a community level, resulting in significant control of active infections and it’s spreading.

Involving experts from University of Nottingham (School of Veterinary Medicine and Sciences, Biosciences, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Chemistry), the study is a collaborative project led by Professor Kin-Chow Chang. Experts from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), China Agricultural University, and the Pirbright Institute are also a part of the team. 

“Whilst we are still at the early stages of research into this antiviral and its impact on how viruses such as COVID-19 can be treated, these findings are hugely significant,” Processor Chang said.

“The current pandemic highlights the need for effective antivirals to treat active infections, as well as vaccines, to prevent the infection. Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal to human (zoonotic) and reverse zoonotic (human to animal) spread take place, a new generation of antivirals, such as thapsigargin, could play a key role in the control and treatment of important viral infections in both humans and animals”

Professor Chang added.

The study has revealed that the plant-derived antiviral activates a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centered antiviral innate immune response against three major fatal human respiratory viruses, COVID-19 being one of them.

Studies have unveiled some of the key features that make thapsigargin a reliable antiviral :

  • It has the ability to prevent a virus from copying itself in cells for a minimum of 48 hours following a single exposure of 30 minutes.
  • It is effective against the viral infection when it is used before or during the active infection.
  • It can be taken orally and therefore does not have to be administered using injections.
  • It is highly effective as compared to the existing antivirals.
  • It is not sensitive to virus resistance.
  • It is equally effective in blocking combined as well as singular virus infections.
  • Its safety has been tested.

Professor Chang has also stated that the present findings are strongly indicative of thapsigargin’s efficacy against COVID-19 and influenza virus, but the need for further testing remains. He also said that thapsigargin has the potential to defend us against the next Disease X pandemic.

“Although more testing is clearly needed, current findings strongly indicate that thapsigargin and its derivatives are promising antiviral treatments against COVID-19 and influenza virus, and have the potential to defend us against the next Disease X pandemic”

as stated by Professor Chang.
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