Researchers have found that a drug currently used to treat bipolar disorder and hearing loss may also treat COVID-19 thanks to itsantibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Known as Ebselen, the new findings come after previous research showing it is able to block enzymes known as ‘Mpro’ that are necessary for the coronavirus to replicate in healthy cells.
For the most recent study, researchers from the University of Chicago created computer models to understand how the drug and Mpro interact. In the end, they found that Ebelsen is able to bind to two different sites on the enzyme- both key for its function and ability to replicate.
These findings suggest that Ebelsen may be a good drug candidate to treat COVID-19- especially as it is already in use, demonstrating its safety. The researchers also say that the drug highlights another vulnerability of the coronavirus that scientists may want to continue to investigate as the search for other drug candidates persist.
Although promising results, however, the researchers also say that a lot more research is needed before they can properly determine how effective the drug may be at treating COVID-19. While computer models show it may be effective, real-life trials outside of the lab are needed to confirm its effectiveness.
As such, while research may advance on this drug candidate, the researchers plan to focus their research on finding ore of SARS-CoV-2’s weak spots.
“The main protease is one of many proteins in the virus that could be targeted with existing, repurposed drugs, and there are thousands of compounds to be considered,” says Professor Juan de Pablo, one of the study’s authors.
“We are systematically investigating each of the proteins involved in the virus function and investigating their vulnerabilities and their responses to a wide range of drugs.”