A recent study has shown that aprotinin, a drug that reduces the risk of bleeding during surgery, can stop the novel coronavirus from entering host cells. The drug could serve to prevent severe cases of COVID-19, the authors say.
Although the introduction of an effective vaccine may allow life to return largely to normal, the eradication of SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely. Humanity is probably going to have to live with the virus, which may eventually become seasonal.
Therefore, treatments will still be necessary in cases where people do contract the virus and develop COVID-19. Treatments are also important in concert with vaccine development, as no vaccine is 100% effective.
A new study that researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, led has shown that the anti-bleeding drug aprotinin (Trasylol) can stop SARS-CoV-2 from entering host cells. The authors say that aprotinin could prevent COVID-19 from progressing to a severe, systemic disease.
Aprotinin is an inhibitor of fibrinolysis, the process leading to the breakdown of blood clots. Doctors sometimes use it during surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding and, consequently, the need for blood transfusions.
This is because cleavage of the coronavirus spike protein — which a protease performs — is an essential step in the viral life cycle, allowing the virus access to cells in the body. This cleavage must take place for the virus to be able to bind to its receptors on the surface of our cells.
To investigate whether aprotinin could prevent this critical step, and thereby stop the virus from entering cells, the team behind this study performed various experiments in cells.