A new study has identified 21 drugs already proven to be safe for humans that can be used to treat COVID-19 and potentially stop the virus from replicating in the immune system. These could help reduce the severity of the virus in patients and curb the global pandemic.

In findings published in the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Dr Sumit Chanda, professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, profiled a library of known drugs encompassing approximately 12 000 clinical-stage or FDA-approved small molecules. They identified 100 molecules that inhibit viral replication, including 21 known drugs that exhibit dose response relationships. As such, these drugs can potentially prevent the SARS-COV-2 virus from replicating.

They found that 13 of the 21 drugs have already undergone clinical trials for other indications and have effective doses to safely treat COVID-19 patients. Two of the drugs, astemizole and clofazamine, are already FDA approved. Four of the drugs identified in the study were also found to work well with remdesivir, another drug showing promising results in treating COVID-19.

“Remdesivir has proven successful at shortening the recovery time for patients in the hospital, but the drug doesn’t work for everyone who receives it. That’s not good enough,” said Chanda.

“As infection rates continue to rise in America and around the world, the urgency remains to find affordable, effective, and readily available drugs that can complement the use of remdesivir, as well as drugs that could be given prophylactically or at the first sign of infection on an outpatient basis.”

“This study significantly expands the possible therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients, especially since many of the molecules already have clinical safety data in humans,” adds Chanda. “This report provides the scientific community with a larger arsenal of potential weapons that may help bring the ongoing global pandemic to heel.”

Also read: Oxford study unveils dexamethasone as breakthrough drug in COVID-19 fight

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