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Potential New Drug Could Reduce Cellular Stress from SARS-CoV-2 Infection in COVID-19 Patients

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 21 Sep 2020
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Image: Potential New Drug Could Reduce Cellular Stress from SARS-CoV-2 Infection in COVID-19 Patients (Photo courtesy of University of Malaga)
Image: Potential New Drug Could Reduce Cellular Stress from SARS-CoV-2 Infection in COVID-19 Patients (Photo courtesy of University of Malaga)
Scientists have made progress in finding new rapid implementation therapies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying a new drug that could prevent or mitigate the consequences derived from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Researchers from the Department of Cell Biology of the University of Malaga (UMA Málaga, Spain) and the Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND Málaga, Spain) will conduct studies on how 4-Phenylbutiric acid (4-PBA) treatment modulates the inflammatory response produced in severe cases of COVID-19. The inflammatory process identified in severe cases of coronavirus causes an uncontrolled and excessive release of cytokines -molecules in charge of organizing the body's defenses- which could even trigger vascular hyperpermeability and multi-organ failure. The researchers have proposed controlling such cytokine "storm" through those controlling them, that is, the infected cells.

According to the researcher, repurposing the 4-PBA anti-stress drug, approved for clinical use against other diseases and, hence, easy to apply clinically, could modulate such cellular stress, which is also present in pathologies like diabetes, aging or carcinogenesis, which, in turn, are classified as risk factors for COVID-19. Their first studies have also identified the endoplasmic reticulum resident protein "BiP" (Binding Immunoglobulin Protein) -a stress blood marker- as indicator of cellular stress situations, likely to be explored and measured in affected patients. This way, BiP levels, apart from determining the efficacy of 4-PBA treatment, could also serve as early indicators of COVID-19 risk groups, establishing a correlation between high levels and the inflammatory severity after the viral infection.

"When cells are stressed by infection, they call the cytokines, and the more stressed they are, the more persistent they become, provoking this uncontrolled inflammation. Hence, one possible treatment for COVID-19 is to reduce cellular stress", said UMA researcher Iván Durán who is leading the study. "Our preliminary results conducted on animal models have demonstrated that 4-PBA fully curbs mortality caused by respiratory failure derived from cellular stress."

"There are people already suffering from diseases that cause cellular stress, and when they become infected with coronavirus, they are more likely to fall ill or die. Therefore, if we know that the patient suffers from cellular stress, we can kill two birds with one stone: we can detect susceptibility before infection occurs and know how to treat it in due time", added Durán.


Related Links:
University of Malaga
Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND)



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