Researchers say an investigational cancer drug could keep people from getting the new coronavirus.
The drug is a piece of synthetic DNA called an “aptamer” that binds to a protein called nucleolin found on the surface of cells.
Previous studies have shown that aptamer prevents various cancers from “diverting” nucleolin, replicating the disease, and infecting other cells.
The team at the University of Louisville in Kentucky says the technology could be used to prevent the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body.
University of Louisville researchers say he has a treatment that could prevent the new coronavirus (photo) from spreading throughout the body
A piece of synthetic DNA called an “aptamer” binds a protein called nucleolin found on the surface of cells and has been used in cancer patients to prevent the disease from “diverting” nucleoline and replicating (UW Medicine image file, April 17)
The aptamer was discovered by a team led by Dr. Paula Bates, professor of medicine at the University of Louisville.
“Like many scientists, as soon as I heard about the new coronavirus, I wanted to help and started to think about how my area of research could intersect with research efforts on coronaviruses,” said she said in a statement.
Bates plans to work at the Regional Biological Containment Laboratory at the University of Louisville, one of twelve regional laboratories and two national biological containment laboratories in the United States.
The laboratory contains biosafety level 3 facilities that protect researchers from exposure to the pathogens they examine.
Bates said she has tested the drug in cells, but hopes to start clinical trials in humans soon.
“Generally, developing a drug from scratch takes many, many years and you will have to do a lot of animal testing to try to prove it is safe,” she told the WSMV.
“Then you test the safety in humans, then you test if it works in humans. And then the whole process takes years.
“Because it has already been tested in humans, in cancer patients and we plan to use it and dose it in a very similar way for patients with COVID-19, we hope that we can cut a lot of time over there, ‘she said.
She says she hopes her team will soon receive approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration to begin testing.
Because a vaccine could take between 12 and 18 months to reach the market, she says the treatments could help slow the spread.
“They could get this early to stop the virus from spreading in their bodies and it would hopefully prevent them from getting seriously ill, but also for people who have already become seriously ill,” said Bates.
“There is evidence to believe that if you can somehow reduce the amount of virus in the body, further reduce the spread, you could benefit from it.” “
In the United States, there are more than 856,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 48,000 deaths.