Against Covid-19, the unlikely repositioning of existing antivirals

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Among the molecules to which the researchers turned, the remdesivir, developed against Ebola, or the combination lopinavir / ritonavir used against AIDS.

Remdesivir, a molecule developed against Ebola.
Remdesivir, a molecule developed against Ebola. ULRICH PERREY / AFP

A pandemic with a new, sometimes deadly virus, creates an atmosphere of emergency. However, there is a long way to go before a molecule, chosen for its therapeutic properties, becomes a drug authorized by health authorities. We must indeed ensure that the treatment is effective, well tolerated, with risks that do not offset its benefits. To save time, it is tempting to want to use already known drugs, it is repositioning.

In reality, what can seem like an acrobatics can be fully explained. “We must not forget that when manufacturers study an active ingredient (substance with therapeutic properties, editor’s note), they discover many effects which are all potential targets ”, explains Dominique Maraninchi, professor of emeritus cancerology and former director of the Medicines Agency (Ansm). “At some point, the manufacturer chooses the development he wants to do with this active ingredient, but he

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