Chinese doctors racing to find an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus are testing out medications used for HIV, Ebola and malaria, according to a new report.
Kaletra — the brand name for a combination of ritonavir and lopinavir, two antiretroviral medications used to fight HIV — is one of the meds being used to attack the deadly COVID-19 bug, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The drug appears to work to prevent enzymes called proteases from allowing the virus to mature and replicate, the paper reported, citing very early studies.
Scientists are also testing out the effectiveness of an unapproved drug called remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences, which has been used in experiments to combat the Ebola virus, according to the report.
Tests in animals suggest it keeps two other coronavirus strains from replicating — including Middle East respiratory syndrome.
A study published Thursday by the National Institutes of Health reveals that remdesivir prevented the disease when administered to macaques before infection, and improved their condition after the animals were already infected.
It’s yet unclear how the medication will fare against the new virus that has sickened tens of thousands in China and elsewhere.
A third drug, known as chloroquine, used to treat malaria, is being tested against coronavirus in China, the Times reported.
The widely used drug is under trial to see if it can prevent the coronavirus from infiltrating patients’ cells, according to the report.
The outbreak of a new, potentially deadly virus like COVID-19 often sends doctors scrambling for any potential treatments, Dr. Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, told the Times.
“It’s just so hard when you’re on the front line and your patient is sick and you want to do something,” Perlman said.
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