GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The race to find effective treatments for COVID-19 isn’t just about developing new drugs. University of Florida Health scientists are studying a trio of existing medications known to have broad antiviral activity.
Two drugs have shown promising results in suppressing the Sars-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) in initial tests on human colon and lung cells that were infected with the coronavirus. The third has shown some antiviral activity but was generally less effective than the other two compounds, the researchers found.
The researchers are focusing on the three drugs because they already have federal approval for use against other viral diseases or have undergone prior testing as an antiviral therapy, said Ashley Brown, an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine and an affiliated associate professor in the UF College of Pharmacy.
“We chose to research these drugs for effectiveness against COVID-19 because they have the most promise for broad-spectrum antiviral activity,” Brown said.
The drugs are known as nucleoside polymerase inhibitors, or NUCS. The ones being studied as a SARS-CoV-2 therapy are galidesivir, remdesivir and favipiravir. Remdesivir was already being used on an emergency basis for severely ill, hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In late August, the drug’s manufacturer got U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use the treatment on all hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Brown is collaborating with Jürgen Bulitta, a professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the College of Pharmacy and Dr. George Drusano, a professor in the College of Medicine.
The three NUCs being studied at UF work this way: