By Mark Waghorn via SWNS
A cheap antibiotic used to treat respiratory infections could treat COVID-19, according to new research from France.
In experiments, clofoctol reduced virus replication and lung symptoms in mice.
The drug could help combat the pandemic after human trials.
Lead author Dr. Jean Dubuisson, of Pasteur Institute, Lille, said: "Its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, associated with its safety profile and unique pharmacokinetics, make a strong case for proposing clofoctol as an affordable therapeutic candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 patients."
Vaccines have transformed the pandemic. But there is still a huge need for drugs that can treat the virus.
Immunity can wane, and access is still a major problem around the world. Also, new variants emphasize the possible need for a backup.
Repurposed drugs may have a speedier path to clinical use because they have already been shown to be safe in people.
The study in PLOS Pathogens suggests clofoctol may become an effective therapy.
COVID-19 jabs reduce hospitalizations and death, but they do not control virus transmission. Affordable medications are desperately needed.
The team accessed data from the Apteeus library, a collection of 1,942 approved drugs to identify molecules that exhibit antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
They selected clofoctol based on its antiviral potency and tested their idea on infected mice.
Lab rodents given clofoctol had a decreased viral load, reduced inflammatory gene expression and less lung disease.
Dr. Dubuisson said: "Antivirals targeting SARS-CoV-2 are sorely needed.
"In this study, we screened a library of drug compounds and identified clofoctol as an antiviral against SARS-CoV-2.
"We further demonstrated that, in vivo, this compound reduces inflammatory gene expression and lowers pulmonary pathology and decreases viral load."
Future studies are needed to further understand the drug's therapeutic potential in patients because of the physiological differences with mice.
Additionally, the animals were sacrificed only two days after treatment, so longer-term effects remain unknown.
Dr. Dubuisson added: "Finally, the relatively low cost of this drug suggests that it is a potential clinical option for treatment of COVID-19 patients in resource-poor settings."
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