Drugs that inhibit Hepatitis C virus protease-inhibitor can be used to treat CoViD-19 alongside Remdesivir, according to a new study conducted at University of Texas and Icahn School of Medicine in US. The study also showed that four drugs used to treat Hepatitis C, if used along with Remdesivir can make it up to ten times more effective in inhibiting infection with SARS-CoV-2.
Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, was developed as a broad-spectrum antiviral by Gilead Sciences in 2014. This nucleotide analog prodrug was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating CoViD-19. It was used for treating hospitalised adults and children 12 years and older infected with SARS-CoV-2 who weigh at least 40 kg.
Remdesivir was earlier used as a possible treatment option for the Ebola virus. Since then, the drug’s efficacy against other Coronaviruses has been examined. Past studies have shown that Remdesivir is effective in cell cultures and animal models against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Viruses causing both of these belong to the subgenus betacoronavirus, as SARS-CoV-2.
Remdesivir inhibits the viral RNA-dependent polymerase, which facilitates the virus’s replication in host cells. Meanwhile, the Hepatitis C Virus protease-inhibitor drugs target proteases of SARS-CoV-2. These are also crucial for the replication SARS-CoV-2, causing CoViD-19. Researchers have already proved that the HCV protease (NS3/4A) and SARS-CoV-2’s main protease (Mpro) are structurally similar, through molecular docking studies.
Researchers have found that seven drugs inhibited the protease activity of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and the replication of the virus in cell cultures. Four Hepatitis C Virus protease-inhibitor drugs such as Vaniprevir, Simeprevir, Grazoprevir, and Paritaprevir were also shown to inhibit a new type of SARS-CoV-2 protease, known as Papain-Like Protease (PLP). These four drugs can synergize with Remdesivir, as per the paper in the journal Cell Reports.