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Israeli Researchers Say Three Existing Drugs Could Stop COVID in its Tracks

July 21, 2021

by: Kate Norman

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Medical worker holds a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination (illustrative)

Wednesday, 21 July 2021 | Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they have identified several drugs that are effective at treating COVID-19 as well as potential variants of the virus.

After placing SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) and human cells in vitro with several different drugs, the scientists discovered that three particular drugs “can protect cells from onslaught by the virus with close to 100% effectiveness, meaning that almost 100% of the cells lived despite being infected by the virus,” one of the scientists from the lab study told the Times of Israel.

Professor Isaiah Arkin, a biochemist at Hebrew University, pointed out that normally “around half the cells would have died after two days following contact with the virus.”

After conducting what Arkin described as a needle-in-a-haystack search through some 3,000 existing medicines to repurpose for treatment of COVID-19, the team found three drugs that work against the virus and would likely encompass potential variants of the virus as well.

The drugs that tested well in the lab include Darapladib, a medicine that treats atherosclerosis, a plaque buildup that can block blood flow through the arteries. The other two drugs are Flumanitib, which is used to treat blood cancer, and an HIV medication.

These drugs don’t target the spike protein on the virus like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do, Arkin said. Instead they target the envelope protein and the 3a protein, which Arkin said usually remain the same between variants of the virus. This is good news, meaning the drug treatments could be effective in virus mutations, Arkin said.

The envelope protein was previously dismissed as a target for treatment, but the Israeli team pinpointed it as an ion channel, “a class of proteins that are located in the membranes of all organisms, which because of their structure respond particularly well to drugs,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Having more than one means of battling the pandemic is important, Arkin noted.

“We should never be in a situation where in our arsenal we only have one firearm,” he told the Jerusalem Post. “If we only have one and we rely solely on it, and there comes a time that it fails, we will be in a very precarious situation.”

The lab study, while showing very promising results, has yet to be peer reviewed and go through clinical trials. However, the drugs themselves have already gone through trials and are available on the market, which should fast track the path to potential new treatments for COVID-19.

Posted on July 21, 2021

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 21, 2021)

Photo Credit: Lisa Ferdinando/US Secretary of Defense/

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