Black market drug for cats found to destroy Covid-19 virus in lab experiments

A drug labelled GC376 was found, we are told by the authors of a Daily Mail online article, to destroy the Covid-19 virus in lab experiments. There are calls for the drug to be trialled as a standard treatment for coronavirus. As I understand it, GC376 is not yet authorised in America by the FDA as a treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) which is caused by a similar virus to the one which causes coronavirus in people.

This is an interesting link between cats and people. The scientists are bending over backwards to try and find a treatment for Covid-19 pending a vaccine which will prevent it occurring. It’s a two pronged attack on the disease. At the moment there is no treatment although there had been a lot of talk about Remdesivir which is a broad spectrum antiviral medication. President Trump advocated it. It is being tested as a treatment for Covid-19 as it has been authorised for emergency use in the US, India and Singapore.

GC376 chemical composition. Image: Wikipedia (modified).
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Remdesivir is GS5734, a similar antiviral to GC376 and another called GS441524. They are all linked as I understand it. On August 20 30,019 I wrote about these antiviral agents and the fact that researchers were optimistic that one of them could be used effectively as a treatment against FIP. There is quite a lot of support for GS441524 as a treatment for FIP.

It is said that in a test of the drug on 31 cats suffering from FIP, 26 of them improved dramatically. The fever resolved in 12 to 36 hours and their appetite improved. They gained weight and 24 of 26 remained healthy. Eight relapsed but were further treated successfully.

The Mail online state that a study adds to the evidence that this as yet unauthorised feline medicine could be used to treat human coronavirus. One manufacturer, Anivive, have applied to the FDA (USA’s Food & Drug Administration) to test it as a Covid-19 treatment in humans. The researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada found that it worked by blocking an enzyme (a protease called Mpro) produced by the virus causing FIP, namely the feline enteric coronavirus (FCoV). It therefore prevents the virus from reproducing. FCoV is a coronavirus with a similar structure to the one causing the coronavirus pandemic in humans.

The scientists said that GC373 and GC376 are potent inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 replication. SARS-CoV-2 is another label for the coronavirus affecting people.

They are strong drug candidates for the treatment of human coronavirus infections because they have already been successful in animals. The work here lays the framework for the use in human trials for the treatment of Covid-19. Clearly, these drugs need to be advanced quickly into human trials for Covid-19. – Professor Lemieux

The research was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. The team was led by Professor Lemieux, as I understand it.

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