SEP 11, 2020 8:00 AM PDT

Could a Drug for Cats Treat COVID?

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Canadian researchers have discovered that a drug used to treat coronavirus infections in cats shows promise in helping COVID-19 patients. Under experimental conditions, the drug blocks the replication of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, in infected human cells.

"This drug is very likely to work in humans, so we're encouraged that it will be an effective antiviral treatment for COVID-19 patients," said Joanne Lemieux, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Alberta. The research team published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

The drug, called GC376 is a protease inhibitor — a class of antiviral drugs that are widely used to treat infections such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. GC376 is used to treat feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an immune-mediated disease triggered by infection with a type of coronavirus. FIP is a major problem in environments where many cats are kept together in a confined space such as catteries, shelters, and pet stores.

Lemieux and colleagues demonstrated that the FIP drug GC376 was able to interfere with SARS-CoV-2 proliferation in human cell lines.

"We determined the three-dimensional shape of the protease with the drug in the active site pocket, showing the mechanism of inhibition," Lemieux added. "This will allow us to develop even more effective drugs."

The preclinical testing was so promising that the team already has plans to test the drug in humans in the works.

"Typically for a drug to go into clinical trials, it has to be confirmed in the lab and then tested in animal models," Lemieux said. "Because this drug has already been used to treat cats with coronavirus, and it's effective with little to no toxicity, it's already passed those stages and this allows us to move forward."

"Because of the strong data that we and others have gathered we're pursuing clinical trials for this drug as an antiviral for COVID-19."

 

 

Sources: Nature Communications, Science Daily.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
NOV 25, 2020
Immunology
Another COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results!
NOV 25, 2020
Another COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results!
A week ago, another biotechnology company "Moderna" announced the preliminary results from its COVID-19 vaccin ...
DEC 20, 2020
Microbiology
How Do mRNA Vaccines Work?
DEC 20, 2020
How Do mRNA Vaccines Work?
Scientist Katalin Karikó studied mRNA vaccines for years. She spent years getting grant rejections, but has now helped c ...
DEC 28, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Mapping Networks of Gene Expression in Cells
DEC 28, 2020
Mapping Networks of Gene Expression in Cells
Every cell contains our whole genome, but not all genes are turned on all the time; gene expression has to be very caref ...
DEC 31, 2020
Immunology
Arthritis Medication Resolves Previously Untreatable Skin Condition
DEC 31, 2020
Arthritis Medication Resolves Previously Untreatable Skin Condition
Bumpy, inflamed, ring-shaped lesions on the skin—granuloma annulare (GA) is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition ...
JAN 05, 2021
Immunology
Immune Imbalances Dictate COVID Symptom Severity
JAN 05, 2021
Immune Imbalances Dictate COVID Symptom Severity
COVID symptoms. “As it is often the case for pathogenic infections, the host immune system is a key player in vira ...
MAR 18, 2021
Immunology
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
MAR 18, 2021
COVID Cytokine Storm Chasers Look Inside the Lungs
Immunologists have revealed one of the underlying mechanisms behind COVID’s life-threatening cytokine storms. By s ...
Loading Comments...