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SARS drug ready for clinical trial

Friday April 3rd, 2020

A drug developed to treat lung disease has shown early promise against the Covid-19 virus, researchers reported last night.

The drug, APN01, is already due to begin clinical trials on Covid-19 patients in China and was originally developed as a potential treatment for SARS.

It uses a modified variant of the ACE2 protein, used as the entry point by the virus to human cells.

Laboratory studies, including the use of organoids, suggest hrsACE2 reduced viral growth by factors of between 1,000 and 5,000, the researchers reported in the journal Cell.

The project has involved researchers in Sweden, Canada and Spain.

Researcher Professor Ali Mirazimi, of the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, said: "Our study provides new insights into how SARS-CoV-2 infects the cells of the body, including in blood vessels and kidneys.

"We hope that our results can contribute to the development of a novel drug treatment that can help patients with COVID-19.

"We believe adding this enzyme copy, hrsACE2, lures the virus to attach itself to the copy instead of the actual cells. It distracts the virus from infecting the cells to the same degree and should lead to a reduction in the growth of the virus in the lungs and other organs."

Professor Núria Montserrat, of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Spain, said: "Using organoids allows us to test in a very agile way treatments that are already being used for other diseases, or that are close to being validated. In these moments in which time is short, human organoids save the time that we would spend to test a new drug in the human setting."

* University College London announced it would be leading a trial to test remdesivir within the UK as part of a 75 hospital global effort. Five UK hospitals are involved.

* The World Health Organisation has warned of the growing threat to Africa as the number of recorded cases of Covid-19 infection globally passed a million.

It warned that reports across the continent were increasing substantially. Every province in South Africa is now affected.

Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infections in engineered human tissues using clinical-grade soluble human ACE2. Cell 2 April 2020

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.004

Tags: Africa | Asia | Europe | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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