Metallodrugs Could be Used as Antivirals for Coronavirus

According to recent research, scientists from Hong Kong have discovered a class of metallodrugs currently used in the treatment of other infectious diseases is showing efficacy to potently suppress coronavirus replication and relieve viral-associated symptoms in trials. The conclusions deliver a new and readily available therapeutic option with high clinical potential for infection with SARS-CoV-2. As the entire world is on the hunt for the vaccine, another approach for prevention and treatment of the disease is to identify anti-COVID-19 agents from existing virus-specific antiviral drugs to repurpose and target the new virus. Remdesivir has been reported to show efficacy towards SARS-CoV-2.

However, there is a global shortage of the drug and expensive natures in addition to the lack of significant clinical benefits in severe cases, which are factors that have limited its wider applications. Clinical trials on a series of antiviral agents are still ongoing therefore greater efforts are required to extend the evaluation to cover a wider spectrum of clinically approved drugs, which pave the way to alternative treatment strategies. Metal compounds, on a general note, are used as antimicrobial agents; their antiviral activities have rarely been explored. After assessing a series of metallodrugs and compounds, the research team identified ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC), a commonly used anti-ulcer drug which contains the metal Bismuth for treatment of Helicobacter pylori-associated infection, as a potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 agent, both in vitro and in vivo.

It has been demonstrated to greatly reduce viral loads by over 1,000-folds in coronavirus infected cells. It is highlighted as a druggable target and the high clinical potential of bismuth (III) drugs and other metallodrugs for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Hopefully, more antiviral agents from readily available clinically approved drugs could be identified for the potential treatments of COVID-19 infections post this breakthrough. They can be in the form of combination with drugs that exhibit anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities including RBC, dexamethasone, and interferon-β1b.

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