Scientists ID Three FDA-Approved Drugs That Can Curb COVID-19 Virus Replication; Drugs Inhibit Key Viral Protease; One (Atovaquone) Is “Uniquely Promising,” With Reported Anti-Viral Activity Against Other RNA Viruses & Positive Effect on Lung Disease

Three drugs that are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other international agencies can block the production of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in human cells, according to computational and pharmaceutical studies performed by University of Texas (UT) Southwestern scientists. These findings, published on a preprint server known as ChemRxiv (https://chemrxiv.org/articles/Identification_of_FDA_Approved_Drugs_Targeting_COVID-19_Virus_by_Structure-Based_Drug_Repositioning/12003930) on May 14, 2020 prior to peer review, build on other recent research by the same UTSW team to quickly find promising agents against this often serious respiratory condition. COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has now infected more than 4 million people and killed more than 300,000 worldwide since it emerged in December 2019. Scientists around the globe have focused their efforts on discovering potential vaccines and therapeutics to prevent and treat this disease. For example, recent studies have suggested that the anti-viral drug remdesivir shows some promise at reducing disease severity in COVID-19 patients. However, thus far, researchers have found no treatment or prophylaxis with clear evidence of clinical benefit across large populations. Developing new pharmaceuticals could take months, even with rapid approval, according to study leaders Hesham Sadek, MD, PhD, (https://profiles.utsouthwestern.edu/profile/78098/hesham-sadek.html), a Professor of Internal Medicine, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics; John W. Schoggins, PhD, (https://profiles.utsouthwestern.edu/profile/134362/john-schoggins.html), an Associate Professor of Microbiology; and Mahmoud Ahmed, PhD, (https://profiles.utsouthwestern.edu/profile/173512/mahmoud-ahmed.html), an Instructor of Internal Medicine.
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