A trio of drugs showing early promise against coronovirus, UF Health researchers found

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The race to find effective treatments for COVID-19 is not just about developing new drugs. University of Florida health scientists are studying a trio of current drugs known for widespread antiviral activity.

Two drugs have shown promising results in preliminary tests on human colon and lung cells to suppress the Saras-COV-2 virus (COVID-19) that was infected with coronovirus. The third showed some antiviral activity, but were generally less effective than the other two compounds, the researchers found.

Researchers are focusing on three drugs because they already have federal approval for use against other viral diseases or have pre-tested as an antiviral therapy, Ashley Brown, an associate professor at UF College of Medicine And an associate associate professor said. UF College of Pharmacy.

“We chose to research these drugs for effectiveness against COVID-19 because they have the most promise for broad-spectrum antiviral activity,” Brown said.

The drugs are known as nucleoside polymerase inhibitors or NUCS. The studies being carried out as SARS-CoV-2 therapy are Galidivir, Remedisvir and Favipirvir. Remdesivir was already being used on an emergency basis for critically ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In late August, the drug’s manufacturer received the US Food and Drug Administration to use the treatment on all hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Brown is collaborating with Jurgen Bulita, Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research in College of Pharmacy, and Dr. George Drusano, Professor in the College of Medicine.

The three NUCs being studied at UF operate in this way: During the viral replication process, the drug compound is picked up and incorporated into the newly formed genetic material of the virus. Brown said the action – a genetic mistake – inhibits the genetic replication process and eliminates the virus. Compounds can also cause a latent genetic mutation within the virus that prevents it from replicating.

Favipirvir is an oral antiviral that was developed in Japan to fight influenza. Galicidavir was originally designed as a hepatitis C treatment, but has been shown in animal studies to increase survival rates from infections with Ebola and Zika virus and others.

Brown said that so far, two of the drugs – Remedisvir and Gledesvir – have shown remarkable activity in suppressing the virus. Favipirvir has been less effective than the other two compounds.

Identifying effective drugs against the Sars-CoV-2 virus is the first step. Researchers must also determine an optimal dose and how often it can be safely given. Gathering data and developing protocols are steps toward a potential clinical trial.

Bulitta, who Perry A. at the College of Pharmacy. Foot Eminent also serves as the Scholar Chair, “We want to determine the dose that produces the fastest recovery and the lowest toxicity for the patient.” “Fortunately, UF has experts in cutting-edge technology and experimental and mathematical modeling approaches. These capabilities enable us to come up with scientifically sound and mechanically informed doses to be achieved on a very rapid basis to deal with the crisis. “

Ideally, Brown said, any therapy developed from research can be given intravenously to those who have fully developed COVID-19 and one for those who test positive for the virus. As in oral therapy.

Bulitta stated that imagining and implementing the study of medicine in a shorter time frame is a testament to the power of cooperation in the UF.

“With Brown’s work on the study of antiviral efficacy, my team’s involvement in developing a novel assay for intracellular concentration measurement, and with the combined effort of Dr. Drusano and myself to work on mathematical modeling, we made our efforts to make it effective. Made the mission. ” Medicine against SARS-CoV-2, ”he said.

Research work is being done at the UF Institute for Therapeutic Innovation, a research center in Orlando that is part of the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Medicine. Funding for the research is being provided by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Earlier this year, the institute set up a $ 2 million fund to support research scientists, who have a proximate impact on the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of COVID-19 or Sars-CoV-2 viruses.

Matt Mallett, director of the UF College of Pharmacy, contributed to this report.

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