Hepatitis C drugs show promise in fight against COVID-19

Representational image
Representational image Reuters

Antiviral drugs developed to the treat hepatitis C may also be effective against the novel coronavirus, a new report suggests.

Researchers examined more than 6,000 drugs with a history of safe use in humans to see if any of them could block an important protein in the life cycle of the virus called the main protease.

“The most potent of these were approved drugs for treating hepatitis C,” study leader Brian Kraemer of the University of Washington School of Medicine told Reuters.

He singled out boceprevir and narlaprevir, protease inhibitors developed by Merck & Co that have been superceded by more effective hepatitis C treatments.

If the effects of these drugs against the novel coronavirus are confirmed in clinical trials, they would likely be given as part of a combination therapy to employ more than one line of attack against the virus, researchers said.

The advantage of finding potent treatments among approved drugs is that they “can be advanced rapidly to clinical trials without extensive multi-year preclinical development efforts,” the researchers said in their report, posted on bioRxiv ahead of peer review. (https://bit.ly/3hT6cXh)