Israel comes up many times in hot topics right now. A few days ago, we suggested that you come back to “Project Pegasus”, an Israeli spyware which is at the heart of a vast affair of global cyberespionage. Today, none of that though, as it is more hopeful news. Israeli scientists have just identified three existing drugs that could prove to be very effective in the treatment against COVID-19. We take stock of the subject.
A large-scale test
Professor Isaiah Arkin, the Hebrew University biochemist behind the discovery we’re talking about today (who works with a team of scientists at the same university), recently explained that he looked at more than 3,000 drugs to determine if they were appropriate in the fight against COVID-19.
Photograph by Isaiah Arkin, March 29, 2020 (Times of Israel staff).
For Professor Arkin, this way of finding the ideal drug was akin to “to look for a needle in a haystack”. The professor thus explained his motivations, for the account of Times of Israel :
We already have the vaccine, but we must not rest on our laurels, and I would like these drugs to be part of the arsenal we use to fight the coronavirus.
3 drugs stand out
Among the 3000 drugs examined, three of them stand out. It’s about of Darapladib (currently used to treat atherosclerosis), of Flumatinib (used in the treatment of cancer), and a medicine used in HIV treatment, whose name has not yet been released. To find out whether certain drugs might have been effective, the team of researchers put the substances in contact with living SARS-CoV-2 cells, and human cells. in vitro. The results obtained by these drugs have been commented on by Professor Arkin, who said:
The results showed that the drugs can protect cells from attack by the virus with efficiency close to 100%, which means that almost 100% of the cells survived despite infection with the virus.
Professor Arkin already hopes to be able to work with a pharmaceutical company so that the drugs he identified in his study are quickly tested clinically, as part of the fight against COVID-19.
It must be said that he is hopeful that these drugs are effective against different variants. If he is optimistic, it is because faced with SARS-CoV-2, the drugs in question here do not target spike protein, but rather one of the other two proteins, namely envelope protein, and protein 3a.
However, these proteins, and in particular the envelope protein, do not change from one variant to another. So this is why these drugs are likely to do their proof in the face of a multitude of variants, according to Professor Arkin:
This means that if we had disposed a drug targeting the envelope protein that would have treated the SARS epidemic, there was a good chance that the pandemic does not even see the light of day.
So this is good news for the fight against COVID-19. It remains to be seen what will turn out later clinical trials. And if you are interested in other technologies surrounding the study of this pandemic, we offer you a previous report on a new mask created by MIT.