Could this drugs help against COVID 19?

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Early in the pandemic, tests were conducted to see if existing drugs for other diseases could help against Covid-19: Remdesivir, for example, which was originally developed to treat Ebola, or hydroxychloroquine, which is effective against malaria. The anti-inflammatory dexamethasone, one of the drugs given to former U.S. President Donald Trump during his Covid-19 illness, is also among them.

However, none of these therapies has yet brought the really big success. The search for an effective antiviral agent to treat the disease caused by Sars-CoV-2 continues accordingly. A discovery by bioinformaticians at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen could make this easier in the future and also help in the creation of new preparations.

As the team led by Andreas Dräger, who also works for the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), writes in the journal Bioinformatics, they have succeeded in using a computer model to identify a weak point in the virus that could be targeted by a drug against Covid-19: the enzyme guanylate kinase 1 (GK1). It “plays an important role in the metabolism of the building blocks of ribonucleic acids (RNA) and is thus also significantly involved in the construction of viral RNA, such as that of SARS-CoV-2,” according to a DZIF statement.

In other words, the virus needs the enzyme to be able to replicate. However, if GK1 is switched off, the reproduction of Sars-CoV-2 is prevented. This does not affect the human host cell, says Dräger: “While virus replication no longer takes place without GK1, the human cell can switch to other biochemical metabolic pathways.” This is an important prerequisite if one wanted to inhibit the enzyme with an active substance without triggering adverse side effects in humans, he said.

The findings are seen as a breakthrough: several substances are already known to inhibit the enzyme. Some of them have even been approved. Experts from the Fraunhofer IME ScreeningPort in Hamburg will now examine which of these could help in the fight against the coronavirus. They have access to a library of around 5600 active ingredients that have already been approved for a different purpose. If they find what they are looking for and if the efficacy against Sars-CoV-2 is also confirmed in animals and humans, the Tübingen researchers believe that a drug redesignated to Corona could be approved at the end of 2021.

Another positive aspect is that the approach is likely to work with all mutations of the virus, probably also against the variants from Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil that are considered to be of concern.

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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