A drug designed for cats can protect people from coronavirus, scientists have said.
The drug GC376 was designed to treat cats for a condition called feline infectious peritonitis, which begins in the intestine and can travel to the brain and be fatal.
Feline infectious peritonitis is caused by another type of coronavirus, but scientists’ lab experiments have shown it can destroy the bug that causes Covid-19.
It has yet to be tested in humans, but researchers said the fact that it works as a coronavirus antiviral is enough evidence to push it into clinical trials – and called on them to start immediately. .
There is currently no drug that can cure or protect people against Covid-19, and doctors can only use their best judgment on drugs that seem to work. Only one drug, dexamethasone, has been shown to reduce the risk of death in critically ill patients.
Survival rates have improved since the start of the pandemic as doctors come to better understand the disease, but a drug that could stop the coronavirus in its tracks would be a holy grail for doctors around the world and save lives. thousands of lives.
The study adds to growing evidence that the feline drug could be used against the coronavirus, a manufacturer – Anivive – having previously asked the Food & Drug Administration in the United States to test it as a Covid-19 treatment in humans .
Researchers tested a drug used to treat a different type of coronavirus infection in cats and found that it effectively destroys the virus that causes Covid-19 in a lab (stock image)
The researchers, at the University of Alberta in Canada, realized that the cat medicine worked by blocking an enzyme produced by an insect called feline enteric coronavirus (FCoV).
In doing so, it prevents the virus from reproducing itself and can stop the feline infectious peritonitis for which it is prescribed.
The disease affects the intestines of cats and can then trigger multiple organ failure and be fatal.
Although the virus that causes it, FCoV, is common, only 5-10% of affected cats develop the disease.
FCoV is a coronavirus, which means it has a structure similar to the one that caused the pandemic, called SARS-CoV-2.
Finding the same enzyme on the coronavirus, researchers in Alberta tested the cat drug in a lab and found that it worked the same.
By paralyzing the enzyme – a protease called Mpro – GC376 prevented the virus from reproducing, meaning it should be unable to cause infection and unable to survive.
An earlier version of the drug called GC373 also had the same effect, they found.
“GC373 and GC376 are potent inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 replication,” wrote the scientists, led by Professor Jeanne Lemieux.
“These are good drug candidates for the treatment of human coronavirus infections because they have already been successful in animals.
“The work here sets the framework for their use in human trials for the treatment of Covid-19.
Another promising sign the researchers found was that the drugs did not appear to be toxic to the cells they had tested them on. It was not clear what type of cells it was.
This type of drug – called a protease inhibitor – is often not suitable for human use because it can cause “serious side effects,” according to the study.
And the team added, “Obviously, these drugs need to be moved quickly into human trials for Covid-19. “
The research was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
Dr Lemieux and his colleagues are not the first to test GC376 against the Covid-19 virus, and other scientists have found the same promising results.
A first study, published online on April 20, called the drug “a promising starting point for the further development of therapy against SARS-CoV-2.”
And a veterinary medicine company, Anivive Lifesciences, has already applied to the Food & Drug Administration in the United States for permission to test it on humans.
Company CEO Dylan Balsz said in May that the company “is moving towards a clinical trial,” BusinessWire reported.
“The research over the past several months and our experience with GC376 supports the exploration of the drug as an adjunct to standard care treatment for patients with Covid-19,” he added.
Cats can catch Covid-19, officials confirmed, but it seems much less deadly and there are no widely available tests for animals.
In the UK, a cat was the first known animal to catch the virus from its owner – details of its location were not disclosed when the case was announced in July.
Downing Street said the animal suffered from a runny nose and shortness of breath, a symptom that strikes humans as well.
The cat and its owners have made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the house, health officials said at the time.
Cats CAN catch Covid-19: So how does it affect them?
How do cats catch coronavirus?
Cats are infected the same way humans do, by inhaling infected droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes.
There have been a handful of cases around the world and almost all of them seem to have caught it from their owners. Fortunately, animals are much less susceptible to infections.
The biggest cat victim is Nadia, a four-year-old Malaysian tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. She made a full recovery.
Dogs and others do animals understand it too?
Yes, there have been cases in dogs and other pets around the world. Some animals, such as mink, are particularly sensitive.
Can Humans Catch Covid of infected animals?
There is no evidence that animals pass it on to humans, with research suggesting that they don’t “shed” enough virus to be infectious.
However, government scientists have warned that if an infected person coughed on their dog, the virus could survive on their fur and be passed on to another person when they stroked it.
And animals spread to each other?
It is proven that cats can transmit the coronavirus to other cats.
In May, researchers at the University of Wisconsin conducted an experiment when they infected three cats with the virus, then put three felines without Covid with them.
The three newcomers then tested positive after catching it from the infected animals.
How serious are the symptoms virus in cats?
Covid-19 appears to be much less fatal in animals than in humans. The British cat who tested positive showed mild clinical symptoms, but made a full recovery.
Many other felines that tested positive did not show any symptoms.
I tested positive – how can I protect my pet?
Public Health England has urged pet owners to wash their hands before and after contact with animals. The British Veterinary Association advises infected people to limit contact with animals.
Owners who test positive should also keep cats indoors if possible.
Do i put a mask on my Cat or dog?
No! Dr Jenny Stavisky, from the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine, explains: “They will probably find this scary. However, it may be a good idea to try to gently acclimate your pet to seeing people wearing masks so as not to be afraid.