Cancer drug shows strong activity against SARS-CoV-2 in lab studies

A report released Jan. 25 by the University of California, San Francisco, found that scientists at the Quantitative Bioscience Institute (QBI) at UC San Francisco and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai (ISMMS) in New York, found that “a drug approved by the Australian Regulatory Agency for the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma, has potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. “

In its report, UCSF cited laboratory experiments reported in Science on January 25, where the drug, plitidepsin (Aplidin) – a compound originally discovered in a squirt of the Mediterranean Sea – “was found to be 27 , 5 times more potent against SARS-CoV – 2 than remdesivir, a drug that received emergency use clearance from the FDA in 2020 for the treatment of COVID-19.

In addition, Science reported that “plitidepsin has shown a 100-fold reduction in viral replication in the lungs and demonstrated an ability to reduce lung inflammation”, in two preclinical models of COVID-19.

Who led the research?

The UCSF statement said the studies were being led by “the laboratories of Nevan Krogan, PhD, director of QBI, which is part of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, and Adolfo García-Sastre, PhD, professor of microbiology and director of the Global Health and Institute of Emerging Pathogens at ISMMS.

The statement said that in 2020, Krogan, also a principal investigator at the Gladstone Institutes – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – brought together numerous UCSF laboratories within the QBI Coronavirus Research Consortium (QCRG), “which has played a major role in the new research. “

The drug is also effective against variant B.1.1.7.

The UCSF press release cited a separate post posted on the bioRxiv preprint server, where “UCSF and ISMMS researchers, in collaboration with Greg Towers, PhD, and Clare Jolly, PhD, of the University College London, show that plitidepsin has antiviral activity against the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 ”, with antiviral activity comparable to the activity of the drug against the original strain of SARS-CoV- 2. In addition, the researchers “found that plitidepsin was about 100 times more potent than remdesivir in human epithelial cells.”

The studies were conducted in close collaboration with PharmaMar, a Spanish pharmaceutical company, notes the statement from UCSF – the company that “first isolated plitidepsin (trade name Aplidin) from a marine organism known as name of Aplidium albicans “.

Plitidepsin targets a host protein rather than a viral protein.

The UCSF statement also cited Kris White, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology at ISMMS, the first author of the Science article, who said, “Plitidepsin is an extremely potent inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2, but its most important strength is that it targets a host protein rather than a viral protein.

White added: “This means that if plitidepsin is successful in treating COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will not be able to acquire resistance against it by mutation, which is a major concern with the spread of the new. United Kingdom and South African Variants.

“Krogan said the work is further validation of the QCRG’s focus on host proteins as a strategy to combat COVID-19 and other viral diseases,” the statement quoted from. UCSF.


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