Scientists at Australian Monash University have found that a commonly used antiparasitic drug, Ivermectin, can stop the COVID-19 causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, replication in human cell cultures in the laboratory. The drug killed the virus particles within two days and the scientists are expected to start the human trials in a month.
As of April 5, 2020, the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) pandemic has sickened more than 1,213,927 people according to the recently available data on ‘Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)’ at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). At least 65,652 people have died, and the virus has been detected in more than 182 countries/regions with the sustained transmission of the virus in six continents.
In the meantime, scientists are working on different available therapies against COVID-19. It includes drugs that are used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases. It also includes antiviral drugs — developed for other viruses in the past, and antibodies recovered from COVID-19 patients.
What should be the key features of an ideal antiviral drug?
An antiviral drug should inhibit the reproductive cycle of the virus. Besides, it should only kill the virus — without affecting human cells that it occupies.
According to some published and unpublished data, different treatment options have been considered for COVID-19 such as convalescent plasma (antibodies recovered from COVID-19 patients and used/injected in infected persons). It has been used in patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infection.
According to a recent research paper entitled “The FDA-approved Drug Ivermectin Inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in-vitro”, published on March 29, 2020, researchers from Australia examined the antiviral activity of ivermectin against SARS-CoV-2 in Vero-hSLAM cells.
“A single dose of the drug Ivermectin was enough to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture,” lead scientist Dr. Kylie Wagstaff said.
They concluded that Ivermectin has in-vitro antiviral action against the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate, and within 24-48 hours, a single dose was able to control viral replication. Also, no toxicity was observed in the tested cells.
Why should Ivermectin be the drug of choice?
Ivermectin is already an FDA permitted drug for parasitic infections, and therefore can be approved for another purpose. It is a known broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drug with in-vitro antiviral activity against a broad range of viruses. Previous studies revealed that ivermectin has anti-viral activity against human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), and influenza virus. Such broad-spectrum antiviral activity of Ivermectin is believed to be due to the dependence by many different RNA viruses on IMPα/β1 host cell proteins during the establishment of a successful infection.
Mechanism of Ivermectin’s antiviral activity
The causative agent of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, a single-stranded positive-sense RNA virus, is closely related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Studies on SARS-CoV proteins have discovered a role for IMPα/β1 host cell proteins during infection in the signal-dependent nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of the SARS-CoV Nucleocapsid protein, that may also affect host cell division. Furthermore, the SARS-CoV accessory protein ORF6 has an antagonistic effect on the antiviral activity of the STAT1, a transcription factor, by sequestering IMPα/β1 on the rough ER/Golgi membrane. These points suggested that ivermectin´s nuclear transport inhibitory activity would be effective against SARS-CoV-2 as well.
About the authors:
- Sadaf Shaheen, M. Phil. Research Scholar at Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan-Pakistan
- Muhammad Akbar Shahid, Assistant Professor (Microbiology) at Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan-Pakistan
How to cite: Sadaf S, Shahid MA. Anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin could be the drug of choice against COVID-19 2020. Available from: https://vetomni.com/anti-parasitic-drug-ivermectin-could-be-the-drug-of-choice-against-covid-19/.