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Asthma drugs can help to fight from COVID also

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: May 05, 2022 9:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minute



Highlights:

• A drug used in the treatment of Asthma can reduce SARS-CoV-2.
• Montelukast was found to bind strongly and stably to Nsp1.
• Clinicians have tried using the drug and said that montelukast reduced hospitalization in COVID-19 patients.

Researchers revealed that asthama drugs can reduce SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid 19, from replicating in human immune cells.

How Asthma drugs can help to fight from COVID

A study by researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru has revealed that a drug used in the treatment of Asthma can reduce SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, from replicating in human immune cells.Montelukast, used to reduce inflammation caused by conditions like asthma, hay fever and hives, has been found effective against Covid-19.This protein can bind to ribosomes the protein-making machinery inside our immune cells and shut down the synthesis of vital proteins required by the immune system, thereby weakening it.

Tanweer Hussain, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics (MRDG), IISc, and senior author of the study explained,"The mutation rate in this protein, especially the C-terminal region, is very low compared to the rest of the viral proteins". he further added,"Since Nsp1 is likely to remain largely unchanged in any variants of the virus that emerge, drugs targeting this region are expected to work against all such variants"

Hussain and his team first used computational modeling to screen more than 1,600 FDA-approved drugs in order to find the ones that bound strongly to Nsp1.From these, they were able to shortlist a dozen drugs including montelukast and saquinavir, an anti-HIV drug.

Sandeep Eswarappa, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, working with the group then hussain's team cultured human cells in the lab that specifically produced Nsp1, treated them with montelukast and saquinavir separately, and found that only montelukast was able to rescue the inhibition of protein synthesis by Nsp1.

Two aspects of the drug

There are two aspects one is affinity and the other is stability,this means that the drug needs to not only bind to the viral protein strongly, but also stay bound for a sufficiently long time to prevent the protein from affecting the host cell. Montelukast was found to bind strongly and stably to Nsp1, allowing the host cells to resume normal protein synthesis.

Testing of the drug

Hussain’s lab then tested the effect of the drug on live viruses, in the Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), IISc, in collaboration with Shashank Tripathi, Assistant Professor at CIDR, and his team. They found that the drug was able to reduce viral numbers in infected cells in the culture.

“Clinicians have tried using the drug and there are reports that said that montelukast reduced hospitalization in COVID-19 patients,” says Hussain. His team plans to work with chemists to see if they can modify the structure of the drug to make it more potent against SARS-CoV-2. They also plan to continue hunting for similar drugs with strong antiviral activity.

Also Read: IIT Research: खोजी गई डायबिटिज की नई दवा, अब इंसुलिन इंजेक्शन की जरूरत नहीं पड़ेगी!

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