Repurposed drugs may have a faster path to clinical use because they have already been shown to be safe for humans. A study published on May 19 in the open access journal PLOS pathogens by Sandrine Belouzard and Jean Dubuisson at the Institut Pasteur in Lille, France and colleagues suggest that clofoctol may be an effective treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice.
Although COVID-19 vaccines reduce hospitalizations and deaths, they do not control transmission of the virus and affordable and effective therapies are needed. Previous attempts to reuse drugs to treat patients with COVID-19 have failed. To identify potential antiviral therapies effective against COVID-19, the authors accessed the Apteus Drug Library, a collection of 1,942 approved drugs to identify molecules that exhibit antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. The authors selected clofoctol based on its antiviral potency and tested their hypothesis by testing its effects on mice infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Researchers found that transgenic mice treated with clofoctol had reduced viral load, reduced inflammatory gene expression, and reduced lung pathology. Future studies are needed to better understand the therapeutic potential of the drug in patients with SARS-CoV-2, as the study was limited by physiological differences between humans and mice. Additionally, the mice were not sacrificed until two days after treatment, so the longer-term effects remain unknown.
According to the authors, “The antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of clofoctol, coupled with its safety profile and unique pharmacokinetics support the proposition of clofoctol as an affordable therapeutic candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Finally, the relatively low cost of this drug suggests that it is a potential clinical option for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in resource-limited settings. »
“Antivirals targeting SARS-CoV-2 are essential,” adds Dubuisson. “In this study, we screened a library of drug compounds and identified clofoctol as an antiviral against SARS-CoV-2. We have further demonstrated that, in vivo, this compound reduces inflammatory gene expression, lowers lung pathology and decreases viral load. »
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