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Potential New Treatment That Suppresses Replication of SARS-CoV-2 Could Be a Breakthrough in COVID-19 Therapy

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Nov 2021
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Image: Breakthrough for COVID-19 treatment (Photo courtesy of unsplash.com/@lomash_s)
Image: Breakthrough for COVID-19 treatment (Photo courtesy of unsplash.com/@lomash_s)

Researchers have identified a potential new treatment that suppresses the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Research by scientists at the University of Kent’s School of Biosciences (Canterbury, UK) and the Institute of Medical Virology at Goethe-University (Frankfurt, Germany) revealed that cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 can only produce novel coronaviruses when their metabolic pentose phosphate pathway is activated. When applying the drug benfooxythiamine, an inhibitor of this pathway, SARS-CoV-2 replication was suppressed and infected cells did not produce coronaviruses.

The researchers found that the drug also increased the antiviral activity of ‘2-deoxy-D-glucose’; a drug which modifies the host cell’s metabolism to reduce virus multiplication. This shows that pentose phosphate pathway inhibitors like benfooxythiamine are a potential new treatment option for COVID-19, both on their own and in combination with other treatments. Additionally, Benfooxythiamin’s antiviral mechanism differs from that of other COVID-19 drugs such as remdesivir and molnupiravir. Therefore, viruses resistant to these may be sensitive to benfooxythiamin.

“This is a breakthrough in the research of COVID-19 treatment,” said Professor Martin Michaelis, Kent’s School of Biosciences. “Since resistance development is a big problem in the treatment of viral diseases, having therapies that use different targets is very important and provides further hope for developing the most effective treatments for COVID-19.”

“Targeting virus-induced changes in the host cell metabolism is an attractive way to interfere specifically with the virus replication process,” added Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Goethe-University Frankfurt.

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