Scientists discover a novel antiviral strategy for treating COVID-19

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A research team led by Professor Hongzhe SUN, Norman & Cecilia Yip Professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, and Professor Kwok Yung YUEN, Henry Fok Professor in Infectious Diseases, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), has discovered a novel antiviral strategy for treatment of COVID-19.
They discovered that a class of metallodrugs currently used in the treatment of other infectious diseases is showing efficacy to potently suppress SARS-CoV-2 replication and relieve viral-associated symptoms in an animal model.

The findings provide a new and readily available therapeutic option with high clinical potential for infection with SARS-CoV-2. This ground-breaking work has been published online in a top-class scientific journal Nature Microbiology. A related patent has been filed in the US.

Background

SARS-CoV-2 is an emerging coronavirus that has caused over 30 million laboratory-confirmed cases and more than 1 million deaths globally of COVID-19 since December 2019.

As the process of developing an effective vaccine is still ongoing, another approach for prevention and treatment of the disease is to identify anti-COVID-19 agents from existing virus-specific antiviral drugs to repurpose their uses to target the new virus.

Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, has been reported to show efficacy towards SARS-CoV-2. However, global shortage of the drug, its relatively high price and lack of significant clinical benefits in severe cases, are factors that have limited its wider applications.

Clinical trials on a series of antiviral agents are still ongoing which have yet to demonstrate therapeutic efficacies. Therefore, greater efforts are needed to extend the…
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