According to infectious disease experts at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, they may have found a treatment that could possibly eliminate the coronavirus.
“University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au today they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions wipe out the virus in test tubes,” News.com.au reported Monday.
The two medications Paterson referred to are Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir. Paterson told the outlet that it seemed reasonable to call the drugs “a treatment or a cure … It’s a potentially effective treatment. Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy.”
Paterson, who also works as an infectious disease physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, said one of the drugs, given to some of the first victims of COVID-19 in Australia, resulted in the “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery.
“Our doctors were very, very surprised that a HIV drug could actually work against the novel coronavirus and there was a bit of skepticism,” said Paterson. “That first wave of Chinese patients we had (in Australia), they all did very, very well when they were treated with the HIV drug. That’s reassuring … that we’re onto something really good here.”
“What we want to do at the moment is a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals, and what we’re going to compare is one drug, versus another drug, versus the combination of the two drugs,” said Paterson, adding there is a “long experience of them being very well tolerated” and no unexpected side effects.
“We’re not on a flat foot, we can sort of move ahead very rapidly with enrolling Australians in this trial,” he said. “It’s the question we all have – we know it’s coming now, what is the best way to treat it? We want to give Australians the absolute best treatment rather than just someone’s guesses or someone’s anecdotal experiences from a few people.”
The Daily Mail provides some more information on the anti-HIV drug used by Paterson’s research team:
Lopinavir/ritonavir, the anti-HIV drug being tested, is most commonly sold under the name Kaletra. It is an antiviral medication which can be taken twice a day by people infected with HIV in order to reduce levels of the virus circulating in the body. Regular use of the medication is intended to stop HIV progressing to AIDS, which is fatal, and may also reduce the risk of people transmitting the infection to others.
It is a type of drug called a protease inhibitor, which works by stopping viruses from using an enzyme called protease, which is vital for them to be able to spread. Without protease viruses cannot make the fully-matured clones that they need to be able to infect other healthy cells, so the infection can’t spread … Kaletra is approved for use in the U.S., Europe and Australia,
Of Chloroquine, The Daily Mail added, “It has also been found to be able to destroy viruses, and scientists found in lab tests that it could be effective against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It is already widely used as an antimalarial for travelers and is also approved in the UK for use on people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.”