‘It’s really important to remember that SARs-CoV-2 is not going to be the last coronavirus that we will see and need protection against.’
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, US, have found that a newly developed small molecule potentially inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection including variants of concern.
The molecule, called diABZI, which is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is currently being tested in clinical trials to treat some cancers. The molecule activates that body’s innate immune response.
Publishing their findings in the journal Science Immunology, the researchers tested the effectiveness of diABZI in transgenic mice that had been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Using nasal delivery, to get the drug to the lungs, researchers found that the treated mice experienced less weight loss compared with the control mice, and had significantly reduced viral loads in their lungs and nostrils, along with increased cytokine production. The results indicated that diABZI stimulates interferon for protective immunity, the researchers said.
Sara Cherry PhD, a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Scientific Director of the High-Throughput Screening (HTS) Core at Penn Medicine said: ‘Few drugs have been identified as game changers in blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection. This paper is the first to show that activating an early immune response therapeutically with a single dose is a promising strategy for controlling the virus, including the South African variant B.1.351… The development of effective antivirals is urgently needed for controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease, especially as dangerous variants of the virus continue to emerge.’
The researchers are testing the molecule against several other viruses. Professor Cherry added ‘It’s really important to remember that SARs-CoV-2 is not going to be the last coronavirus that we will see and need protection against.’