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Anti-parasitic Drug Can Kill COVID-19 Cell Culture Within 48 Hours, Study Finds

The race to develop a treatment for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is in full swing. While researchers all around the world are testing the existing drugs against COVID-19, Australian scientists have found a common anti-parasitic drug that killed SARS-CoV-2 growing in cell culture within 48 hours.

The anti-parasitic drug ivermectin is an FDA-approved drug that has been shown to be effective in vitro against many viruses including dengue, HIV, influenza and Zika virus.

The study published in the journal Antiviral Research showed that the drug ivermectin stopped the coronavirus from growing in cell culture within 48 hours [1].

Studies on SARS-CoV proteins have found an important role for IMPα/β1 during infection in signal-dependent nucleocytoplasmic inhibiting the SARS-CoVNucleocapsid protein that may impact host cell division.

Dr Kylie Wagstaff, the study's lead author said, "We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it".

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Ivermectin reduced SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA present in the cell culture by 93 per cent after 24 hours and after 48 hours it got reduced by 99.8 per cent.

However, Dr Kylie Wagstaff cautioned that the tests were carried out in vitro and further testing and clinical trials carried out in humans would be needed to see if the drug is effective against coronavirus. She said, "Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective - that's the next step,".

She further said that,"In times when we're having a global pandemic and there isn't an approved treatment, if we had a compound that was already available around the world then that might help people sooner. Realistically it's going to be a while before a vaccine is broadly available".

The collaborative study was led by the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity.

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