Even though the corona pandemic has been going on for months, there is still no internationally approved active ingredient against COVID-19. However, a research team led by Prof. Dr. Ursula Rescher from the Institute of Medical Biochemistry at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU) is now reporting on an antidepressant that also effectively combats corona viruses.
According to the researchers, a common drug for depression may also be suitable as a means of treating COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
According to an EMU announcement, the corona pandemic has been keeping the world on tenterhooks for over ten months now. Although comprehensive protective measures have been initiated in most countries, infection and death rates are rising. With few treatment options available, researchers are not limiting their search for a safe, effective and globally available antidote for COVID-19 to the search for new drugs: Already approved drugs are also being tested.
Already approved drugs are also being tested
In this way, a well-known antidepressant has also become the focus of research: Scientists at the Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE) of the Medical Faculty of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU) have investigated the possibility of using fluoxetine as an antidepressant against COVID-19. The study results were recently published in the journal “Emerging Microbes & Infections”.
The drug Fluoxetine, better known under the product name “Prozac”, has been available as an antidepressant since 1988. Its actual task is to inhibit the absorption of serotonin (the so-called “happiness hormone”), but it could also play a decisive role in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The research group headed by Prof. Ursula Rescher is investigating compounds that act at the “interface” of host and pathogen. Their aim is to find drugs that inhibit the uptake of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in this very area and reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.
According to the scientists, FIASMA-based drugs are known to be well tolerated and widely used in their clinical application. The EMU researchers are optimistic based on their results: “Research into licensed drugs and those already in use could lead to many active ingredients also being used antivirally,” says Prof. Rescher. COVID-19 patients would then also benefit from more therapeutic options. (ad)
According to the team, fluoxetine was found to inhibit both the uptake and proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in cell culture without damaging cells or tissue. As explained in the release, the antidepressant belongs to the group of FIASMA (functional inhibitors of acid sphingomyelinase), which includes a variety of pharmacological agents that inhibit the enzyme ASM and regulate both cell growth and cell death. Experiments by the researchers have shown that the drugs amidarone and imipramine from the FIASMA group also inhibit the uptake and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the cell.
Antidepressant against COVID-19
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