Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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COVID Double Whammy

Anti-tapeworm drug shows promise against COVID-related excessive inflammatory response

04 November 2022

COVID Double Whammy

The difference between a mild bout of COVID-19 and a severe, potentially fatal form of the disease is largely down to the patient’s own immune response to the virus – excessive inflammation being linked with hospitalisations and death. This has prompted researchers to find drugs that can quell such rampant responses. And, in a screen of more than 2,500 drugs approved for use in humans, researchers found that among the most promising was one called niclosamide. When the drug was applied to SARS-CoV-2-infected human macrophages (shown), it dramatically inhibited the cells’ inflammasomes (green) – complexes that produce and pump out inflammatory factors. As a bonus, the drug also dialled down replication of the virus. Niclosamide is currently used as an oral treatment for tapeworm and would need reformulating to work in the lungs. The fact that it potentially offers a double punch against COVID, though, suggests such reformulation would certainly be worthwhile.

Written by Ruth Williams

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