Novel Drug Repurposing Approach against COVID-19

Researchers have developed safe, affordable, and accessible medications against COVID-19.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of infections and deaths worldwide. Limited treatment options and the threat from emerging variants make it even more challenging. Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, the CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi, the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, have worked on repurposing safe, affordable, and accessible medications against COVID-19.

“We discovered these structural components were present in all variations after evaluating more than 5 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes (including many variants). We found that these structural components could be locked by the FDA-approved medications prochlorperazine (PCZ) and chlorpromazine (CPZ). This prevented COVID-19 infectivity in laboratory mammalian cells by preventing the viral RNA’s replication or multiplication in human cells. CPZ and PCZ demonstrated reduced viral load in hamsters with COVID-19 infection, report Dr. Shuvra Shekhar Roy (the first author) and Dr. Shantanu Chowdhury, the principal researcher.

The team initially applied computational biology to find the unique structural elements in the SARS-CoV-2 genomes. To understand how this binding affects the viral load in human cells, they performed tests to physically characterise how CPZ and PCZ bind to the structural components. To learn how CPZ and PCZ affected the severity of the illness, they conducted experiments on infected hamsters.

Our research discovered that CPZ and PCZ were both therapeutically and preventatively efficacious in hamsters against COVID-19. According to the findings, we advise well-planned clinical trials to evaluate these medications’ efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients.

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, the AA laboratory from the THSTI core, the Translational Research Programme (TRP), BIRAC grants, and the DST-Scientific and Engineering Research Board (SERB) provided funding for the project. The results were released in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences.

The team comprised Shuvra Shekhar Roy, Shalu Sharma, Zaigham Abbas Rizvi, Dipanjali Sinha Divya Gupta, Mercy Rophina, Paras Sehgal, Srikanth Sadhu, Manas Ranjan Tripathy, Sweety Samal, Souvik Maiti, Vinod Scaria, Sridhar Sivasubbu, Amit Awasthi, Krishnan H. Harshan, Sanjeev Jain, and Shantanu Chowdhury. (Science Wire in India)