Spectrum of approved drugs could be repurposed against COVID-19, find researchers


In the continuous effort for effective drugs to fight COVID-19, 200 approved drugs are predicted to work against the SARS-CoV-2, of which, currently, only 40 are being tested, according to Cambridge scientists.

The findings of the study is published in Science Advances. The study is carried out by researchers at Gurdon Institute and Milner Therapeutics Institute. For the study, the research team used a combination of machine learning and computational biology to create a complete map of proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2. This included proteins that help break the virus in the host cell to the ones generated as a consequence of the infection. In fact, by examining the network using AI approach, the researchers were able to find key proteins behind the infection and biological tracks that might be targeted by drugs.

Meanwhile, till date, drugs is the majority of antibody and small molecule approach for treating COVID-19. Currently, these are either subject of clinical trials or have already passed clinical trials and are approved. Importantly, the focus of clinical trials has been on host targets or several key virus, or on pathways, wherein a drug treatment could be used as an intervention.

For the study, the team employed computer modeling to perform a virtual screen of almost 2,000 approved drugs, and led to identify 200 approved drugs that could be effective for SARS-CoV-2. Importantly, of the 200, 40 have already into clinical trials, which is in line with the approach used, argue researchers.

Further, examination of a subset of the drugs implicated in viral implication, it was found, two were able to inhibit the virus, in particular.

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