Scientists worldwide are actively working on a vaccine against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. However, it is possible that in the fight against this disease can help the drugs that already exist. About it writes DW.
It is possible that the new drug against coronavirus disease COVID-19 generally don’t need to develop because this drug is already available. The repurposing of known drugs not only helps to save money, but also significantly reduce the path that must pass before the medication will enable you to use in the fight against a particular disease.
Now scientists around the world are feverishly working on finding a vaccine that would protect against the virus SARS-CoV-2. In total there are 68 such projects. But even if in the near future will be able to create a vaccine, then the beginning of its mass usage in this year is unlikely.
Given this situation there are two options — further restriction of the contacts and isolation can continue for many months, or treatment of COVID-19 drugs have been developed and used in the treatment of other diseases. However, in the latter case we still have to wait for final test results, and official permits. Experts urge not to self-medicate.
Three groups of medications
At the moment, the researchers checked the medical supplies of three groups that can help patients suffering COVID-19: antivirals, immunomodulators, drugs for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
Antiviral drugs inhibit replication of the virus or prevent its infiltration into the lungs.
These medications used against mild forms of influenza, hepatitis C, but also against HIV, Ebola and, most importantly, against two diseases that also cause coronaviruses, namely, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Tested and already known to have anti-malarial medicines. Only recently managed to establish that these drugs act against the viruses.
Immunomodulators affect the immune system or participate in its operation. Immunomodulatory drugs are divided into those which stimulate the activity of the immune system, and immunosuppressants — that is, those which, on the contrary, keep it to the immune system does not react excessively and thus did not cause the body harm. Immunosuppressants are used, for example, in the treatment of arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
Drugs for the treatment of respiratory diseases to prevent a situation when the lungs are not enough oxygen enriched blood. These drugs has developed, in particular, to combat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — a disease that can lead to death.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — pathological process, during which the walls of the alveoli occurs the growth of connective tissues. The alveoli is a lung balls through the wall which actually is the gas exchange. The growth of connective tissue prevents the proper functioning of the lungs: breathing becomes shallow and rapid, shortness of breath, dry cough.
Active substances against SARS, MERS, Ebola virus and influenza
In the fight against the novel coronavirus is logical to check first of all those medications that to other coronaviruses has been proven. Because in the end, SARS, and MERS are caused by coronaviruses. A new causative agent of SARS-CoV-2 is a modified version of the pathogen of SARS, which led to the epidemic in 2002-2003, which suffered 30 countries mainly in South-East Asia. Then the scientists experimentally proved that against this aggressive coronavirus effect of the drug Remdesivir that the American company Gilead Sciences has developed a for Ebola treatment. In the United States and China Remdesivir now is at the stage of clinical trials on its effectiveness in the fight against COVID-19.
Special attention was attracted to Japanese influenza drug Avigan. This medication contains a synthetic antiviral active substance failover, 2014 which has been approved for use in Japan, and recently also in China. It was developed in the laboratories of the pharmaceutical division of the Japanese holding company Fujifilm. This medication is used in case of severe forms of influenza. In 2014, Avigan successfully used against Ebola.
In Wuhan the Chinese city, where he took beginning of the pandemic COVID-19 — Avigan has been clinically study and the results are considerable hope, according to official Chinese sources. After this message first in Asia and then around the world this drug has raised a real stir. A number of tests with this drug is made in Italy. Renowned German virologist from the Berlin clinic Charité Christian Drosten also called him “inspiring”. Japan in any case already stocked two million packages of Avigan. Other countries like Indonesia, and Germany approached Japan with a request for wholesale supply of this medication, although the test phase is still far from complete.
The effectiveness of the antimalarial drugs in question
Meanwhile, the German pharmaceutical concern Bayer AG retooled plants in Europe for the release of the drug from malaria Resochin active ingredient chloroquine. The company plans not only provide this medication German hospitals, but also free to supply it in other countries.
Clinical research conducted in one of the hospitals of Marseille, has demonstrated the effectiveness of the use of chloroquine for the treatment of pneumonia caused by COVID-19. However, a number of virologists have expressed caution regarding the quality of the Marseille study, as well as regarding side effects in the treatment of chloroquine.
How risky may be the treatment COVID-19 with high doses of chloroquine, especially in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin or other drugs, the study showed the so-called second phase in Brazil, during which arrhythmias and damage to the heart muscle died eleven patients. This study was prematurely interrupted.
Drugs against HIV, cancer and MERS
Scientists do not exclude that may prove to be effective and the active ingredients combination of ritonavir and lopinavir. These medications are used to suppress replication of HIV. The drug Kaletra (a brand name the combination of these two substances) is an American pharmaceutical company AbbVie has already been used for experimental treatment COVID-19 in China, Thailand and Singapore. The results of clinical tests, however, is controversial. Scientists point to the need for further research.
In addition, testing takes place and a number of other active substances, which can theoretically suitable for the treatment of patients infected with the coronavirus. Among these drugs lemonlime used for the treatment of patients with HIV infection and metastatic breast cancer, as well as antibodies that have developed against MERS, the drug Brilacidin, which is used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases of the intestine and the mucosa of the oral cavity.