This Ebola drug could be the COVID-19 treatment we’ve been searching for

As the COVID-19 crisis continues on for an unforeseen amount of time, scientists all over the world are scrambling to find a treatment that works.

We’ve had a few false hopes so far… like the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which recent evidence shows are not only ineffective but dangerous.

Now, however, it looks like the treatment we’ve been waiting for may finally be upon us.

New research from the University of Alberta shows that a drug originally designed to treat Ebola and effectively used to treat the coronavirus Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) could stop COVID-19 from replicating… which means it could prevent thousands and thousands of people from getting seriously ill or even dying.

Remdesivir prevents COVID-19 from replicating

In a recent study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers from the University of Alberta found that the drug remdesivir could stop COVID-19 from replicating and becoming severe.

Remdesivir was originally developed in 2014 to fight the Ebola epidemic, and a study conducted in February by the same University of Alberta research team found that the drug works against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which is also a coronavirus.

In this latest study, researchers found that remdesivir inhibits SARS-CoV-2’s DNA polymerase, which the virus needs to replicate. It does this by replicating the virus’s building blocks and tricking it into incorporating these replications into its DNA.

“These coronavirus polymerases are sloppy and they get fooled, so the inhibitor gets incorporated many times and the virus can no longer replicate,” said Matthias Götte, chair of medical microbiology and immunology at U of A.

This research aligns with previous research in animals and cells showing that remdesivir is a potent antiviral. And all this research combined earned remdesivir the classification of a “direct-acting antiviral” against SARS-CoV-2. It also guarantees that clinical trials will be conducted on the drug. In fact, these clinical trials are already happening across the world because the World Health Organization fast-tracked them. WHO also fast-tracked trials for several other promising drugs. And we should get results from these trials in the next couple of months.

Related: 6 small things to do each day to avoid coronavirus

Keep your fingers crossed for an effective new treatment

The good news is, we’re getting closer to a potential treatment for this devastating virus. In fact, Matthias Götte said the amount of research happening and the cooperation between researchers across the world will produce more than one effective treatment for COVID-19 in the months and years to come. So, stay strong, keep social distancing and keep your fingers crossed that these treatments emerge sooner rather than later.

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Sources:

  1. Study finds remdesivir effective against a key enzyme of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
  2. Remdesivir is a direct-acting antiviral that inhibits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 with high potency — Journal of Biological Chemistry

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.