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Current Affairs

Study lists 69 existing drugs that can target Coronavirus

Date: 05 April 2020 Tags: Biotechnology


Nearly a hundred scientists from across the globe worked together to study the genes of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and have published a list of drugs that can be re-purposed to treat COVID-19. They have also mapped out the human proteins that interact with those of the virus.



The proteins of the virus must attach to the human proteins to cause the infection. The team studied 26 coronavirus genes that help in the production of these proteins. 



  • They studied human proteins and found 332 SARS-CoV-2 and human protein interactions. The team then listed 67 human proteins that can be targeted by 69 drugs to fight the infection.

  • These drugs include the existing FDA-approved drugs, drugs under clinical trials and/or preclinical compounds.

  • When the virus invades the cells, it hijacks the cells’ molecular machinery to replicate itself because it cannot do this on its own. The drugs that have been identified may be able to inhibit these molecular machines so that the virus can no longer use them for its own survival.

  • Some of these drugs will be able to decrease viral load and disease severity for patients. However, they still need to be further tested.

  • The list includes unexpected candidates such as entacapone used to treat Parkinson’s disease and antiviral medication named ribavirin, which was administered to Nipah patients in Kerala during the 2018 outbreak.

  • Chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, and metformin, used to treat diabetes, were also found on the list.

  • The drugs/compounds that are being used are relatively well studied. Many of them are already approved for other diseases. One can easily look up what adverse side-effects, if any, are expected from these drugs.

  • Future studies are geared up to more deeply understand the exact molecular mechanisms used by the coronavirus to drive disease in humans. This could reveal additional drug targets and drugs to treat COVID-19.