A study conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) with medicines used to treat hepatitis C seemed efficient against the novel coronavirus.
In in vitro trials with three cell lineages, including human lung cells, the antiviral daclastavir prevented the productions of viral particles of the new coronavirus that cause the infection. The medicine was 1.1 to 4 times more efficient than other drugs used in clinical trials on COVID-19, like chloroquine, the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, and ribavirina, the latter also used to treat hepatitis.
Daclastavir also surpassed the efficiency of atazanavir, an antiretroviral used in HIV treatment previously tested by Fiocruz scientists.
“The studies indicated that drug [daclastavir] interrupted the synthesis of the viral genetic material, which led to the blocking of the virus’s replication. In infected defense cells, the drug also reduced the production of inflammatory substances, which are associated with over-inflammation conditions observed in severe cases of COVID-19,” Fiocruz stated.
The trials showed that sofosbuvir, another medicine for hepatitis, was less efficient than daclastavir. It also inhibited viral replication in human lung and liver cells, but showed no effects in Vero cells, which stem from a monkey’s cell and often used in virology studies.
The studies were published on preprint website bioRxviv—i.e. results are available for the international scientific community, but they still need further consideration and revision.
The research was spearheaded by Thiago Moreno from the Technological Development Center for Health (CDTS/Fiocruz) in collaboration with scientists from the Oswaldo Cruz (IOC/Fiocruz) and the Laboratories for Immunopharmacology and Research on the Thymus of the IOC.
According to Moreno, the pharmacological parameters of daclastavir against the new coronavirus are compatible with the drug’s effects on patients.
“The repositioning of medications is known by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the quickest way to find candidates for the treatment of COVID-19. Considering that antivirals with a direct action against hepatitis C are among the safest, our results show that these drugs, especially daclastavir, are candidates for the therapy, with a potential for being immediately incorporated into clinical trials.”
Scientists warn against the risks of self-medication, and note further testing with patients is necessary in order to gauge the efficiency of such therapies. “Everyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should seek medical care for guidance regarding the most appropriate therapy,” Fiocruz declared.