COVID-19 is still claiming lives and infecting millions of more people around the world.
Although various vaccines have recently become available, making major gains toward avoiding COVID-19, what about individuals who are already infected?
Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, emphasizing the need for powerful antiviral medicines today more than ever.
Furthermore, some patients are unable to recieve vaccines due to medical reasons, and new types of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that can breach vaccine-conferred immunity are being identified, indicating that we must look beyond prevention.
In a recent work published in iScience, scientists revealed a new drug combo that may help cure COVID-19 together.
The researchers began by establishing an experimental approach for screening treatments that may benefit from infection control.
This system used a type of cells called VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells, which were manipulated to efficiently be infected with and produce SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers utilized this experimental approach to examine a panel of medicines previously permitted for clinical use, including remdesivir and chloroquine, which have been approved or are currently being studied as COVID-19 therapies.
They discovered two compounds that effectively suppressed SARS-CoV-2 infection: cepharanthine, which is used to treat inflammation, and nelfinavir, which is authorised to treat HIV infection.
Cepharanthine prevented the virus from entering cells by inhibiting its binding to a protein on the cell membrane that the virus uses as a gateway.
By contrast, nelfinavir inhibited the virus’s replication within the cell by blocking a protein required for replication.
Given the unique antiviral properties of these medicines, combining them may be extremely beneficial for patients.
Computational models show that a combination of cepharanthine and nelfinavir medication can accelerate the elimination of SARS-CoV-2 from the lungs of a patient by as little as 4.9 days.
These findings justify additional study into the therapeutic potential of cepharanthine/nelfinavir therapy; only then can we be certain that it is good and useful.
The researchers expect that by developing cepharanthine/nelfinavir therapy, they would be able to give doctors and patients a much-needed new treatment alternative.
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