Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that four antiviral drugs, including remdesivir, a drug originally developed to treat Ebola, are effective in inhibiting the replication of the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kamlendra Singh, an Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team, used computer-aided drug design to examine the effectiveness of remdesivir, 5-fluorouracil, ribavirin and favipiravir in treating COVID-19. The team of researchers found that all four drugs were effective in inhibiting the coronavirus’ RNA proteins from making genomic copies of the virus.
“As researchers, we have an obligation to search for possible treatments given that so many people are dying from this virus,” said Singh. “These antiviral drugs, if they turn out to be effective, all have some limitations. But in the midst of a global pandemic, they are worth taking a deeper look at because based on our research, we have reason to believe that all of these drugs could potentially be effective in treating COVID-19.”
According to the team, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, like all viruses, can mutate and develop resistance to antiviral drugs. Therefore, further testing in a laboratory setting and in patients is needed to better evaluate how the proposed treatments interact with the virus’ RNA polymerase.
“Our goal is to help doctors by providing options for possible treatments of COVID-19, and to ultimately contribute in improving the health outcomes of patients suffering from the infectious disease,” said Singh. “As researchers, we are simply playing our part in the fight against the pandemic.”