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Common Antihistamine Nasal Spray Identified as Potential Anti-COVID-19 Drug

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 Jul 2020
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Azelastine, an antihistamine currently available as a nasal spray, has been identified as a potential topical preventive or post-exposure anti-COVID-19 approach.

Azelastine was among several drugs in CEBINA GmbH’s (Vienna, Austria) COVID-19 drug repurposing project for the identification of commonly used approved drugs with activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection in in vitro assays. CEBINA has applied a computational approach, integrating several software tools and novel biological pathway analysis, to identify potential anti-COVID-19 drugs. This approach was complemented with in vitro viral infection testing with SARS-CoV-2 which showed that five generic drugs demonstrated anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity. The most potent among the identified drugs, Azelastine is available as a topically applied product and has only modest side-effects.

"As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge, the identification of Azelastine presents a highly promising preventive and/or post-exposure anti-COVID-19 solution, particularly considering that this drug is widely available as nasal spray and can act directly at the initial site of viral infection," said Eszter Nagy, MD PhD, CEO and founder of CEBINA. "We are working towards confirming our findings in a clinical study, especially the observation that a significantly lower dose might be effective. A lower dosage would be expected to reduce the known side effects, which are not significant though potentially unpleasant and could differentiate between the COVID-19 and the anti-allergic indications."

"We are thrilled to see that our in-silico approach has led to the identification of existing and readily available drugs that have proven anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity, as these findings can have an immediate beneficial effect in the fight against COVID-19," said Professor Robert Konrat, in a structural biologist from the University of Vienna.

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