A study has found that newly engineered antiviral compounds can neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in human airway cells. The compounds also improved survival rates in mice infected with MERS.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses responsible for respiratory tract infections, ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and COVID-19.
Although coronaviruses are a familiar threat, currently no vaccines or antiviral drugs can prevent or treat the infections in people.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the need for effective treatments and drug development. Scientists are hard at work, trying to find an antiviral agent effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Much hope has been placed in remdesivir, an antiviral drug that was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola.
However, recent clinical practice guidelines developed by an international panel give only a “weak” recommendation for the drug in patients with severe COVID-19, and one recent study suggested that seaweed extract could be more effective.
Amid the continued search for a COVID-19 treatment, new research has homed in on a group of antiviral compounds that target an essential enzyme in coronaviruses.
The study’s authors report that the compounds drastically improved survival rates in a mouse model of MERS and neutralized SARS-CoV-2 in cells from people with COVID-19.