【Drugs & Therapeutics】Four kinds of medicine are proved to inhibit novel coronavirus replication in vitro

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 ▲Example photo of in vitro experiment (sources: Freepik)


As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread around the world, scientists are seeking possible medicine and therapeutic methods on treating the infection. Researchers from The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology published a research article “Remdesivir, lopinavir, emetine, and homoharringtonine inhibit SARS-CoV-2replication in vitro” on Antiviral Research in April. The research team tested antiviral effect of compounds, which were believed to have the potential to inhibit the replication of coronavirus, in vitro. 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus shared 79.5% genetic similarity to the SARS-CoV, both are being coronavirus. Therefore, medicines that were found effective in combating SARS-CoV and other coronavirus are considered to be possible treatments for COVID-19.

Among the 16 compounds that were tested, Remdesivir, Lopinavir, Emetine and Homoharringtonine were found to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro under the dose of 100 milligrams. 

Remdesivir has been shown to be active against human coronavirus, but in fact, it was first developed as a treatment for Ebola virus disease. Currently, the phase four clinical trials of Remdesivir are already underway. If tested successfully, it could shed light on treatment against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the research team also found other three medicines that were originally used on other diseases and have the ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication. They found that Lopinavir, one of the compounds in the medicine against HIV infection, can also inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication. It is noticeable that the anti-virus drug is the Chinese government’s suggested treatment method on COVID-19. 

As for Emetine, it was an anti-protozoal drug and has been found against both RNA virus and DNA virus; therefore, could be useful on fighting the current novel coronavirus. Last but not least, Homoharringtonine, an anti-leukemia drug, also shows ability on combating the virus.

As conclusion, this paper suggested that “combinational therapy may help to reduce the effective concentration against SARS-CoV-2 under the maximal therapeutic plasma concentration. Further research needs to be done to identify optimal dose combination of effective compounds against the virus for better clinical benefit.

Choy, K., Wong, A.Y., Kaewpreedee, P., et al. (2020) Remdesivir, lopinavir, emetine, and homoharringtonine inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro. Antiviral Research. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016635422030200X

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