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Screening of approved drugs reveals potential treatment for COVID-19

Vascor (bepridil) could be used to treat COVID-19, according to a new study which screened drugs to repurpose against SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19

A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved heart medication has shown significant effectiveness in interfering with SARS-CoV-2 entry into the human cell host, a drug screening investigation into COVID-19 has shown.

These findings are according to a new study by a team from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), both US. 

The researchers screened currently approved medications to identify which ones could potentially be repurposed to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current COVID-19 pandemic. The team found that the medication bepridil, which goes by the trade name Vascor, has high potential to treat COVID-19. Bepridil is currently approved by the FDA to treat angina, a heart condition.

“Only one medication is currently available, remdesivir, to provide limited benefits to COVID-19 patients and the virus may easily evade it,” said Professor Wenshe Ray Liu, the lead researcher from Texas A&M University. “Finding alternative medicines is imperative. Our team screened more than 30 FDA- and European Medicines Agency (EMA)-approved drugs for their ability to inhibit SARS-COV-2’s entry into human cells. The study found bepridil to offer the most potential for treatment of COVID-19. As a result, we are advocating for the serious consideration of using bepridil in clinical tests related to SARS-CoV-2.”

The team, which includes six other researchers from Texas A&M and four from UTMB, now plans to advance their work to animal models to further test bepridil. If pre-clinical trials are successful, the team hope to advance bepridil to clinical trials.

The findings of the study are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 

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