A non-peer reviewed study released by Israeli scientists, working in conjunction with other researchers in New York, found that treating the coronavirus COVID-19 with a drug already approved by the FDA could possibly reduce the symptoms to those of a common cold.
Two of the scientists, Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s professor Ya’acov Nahmias and New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Dr. Benjamin tenOever, said their treatment using Fenofibrate (Tricor) could hinder COVID-19’s capacity to reproduce or even make it vanish.
Nahmias told The Jerusalem Post, “Viruses are parasites. They cannot replicate themselves. They cannot make new viruses. They have to get inside a human cell and then hijack that cell.”
Nahmias and tenOever focused on how COVID-19 affected lung cells. They discovered that the virus barred the normal burning of carbohydrates, precipitating fat to accrete inside lung cells, and the virus needs that to happen in order to reproduce.
Nahmias explained, “By understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 controls our metabolism, we can wrestle back control from the virus and deprive it from the very resources it needs to survive,” pointing out that people who have high blood sugar and cholesterol levels are more vulnerable to the virus.
Because Tricor triggers fat-burning by the cells, when it was tested the virus reportedly almost completely vanished within five days. The Post reported that the team hoped to advance to clinical studies in both Israel and the U.S. by the end of July.
Nahmias stated, “With second-wave infections spiking in countries across the globe, these findings couldn’t come at a better time.” Tenoever added, “The collaboration between the Nahmias and tenOever labs demonstrates the power of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to study SARS-CoV-2 and that our findings could truly make a significant different in reducing the global burden of COVID-19,” medicalxpress.com reported.
The abstract for the researchers’ study stated:
Here we show that the transcriptional response SARS-CoV-2 in primary lung epithelial cells and biopsies of COVID-19 patients is predominantly metabolic. This transcriptional signature was dominated by changes to lipid metabolism and the induction of IRE1 and PKR pathways of endoplasmic stress in a process regulated by several viral proteins. Transcriptional regulatory analysis of these changes reveals small clusters of transcription factors modulating key enzymes in each pathway. The upregulation of glycolysis and the dysregulation of the citric acid cycle was mediated by NFκB and RELA. While the upregulation of fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis showed a more complex control conditionally modulated by ER-stress activated PPARγ, C/EBP, and PPARα. Viral protein ORF3a appeared to interact with all three pathways suggesting both direct and indirect modulation of host metabolism. Finally, we show that PPARα-agonist fenofibrate reversed the metabolic changes induced by SARS-CoV-2 blocking viral replication …
Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI) reacted to the news by stating:
I am extremely encouraged with the results of these studies. These are the kinds of multi-disciplinary approaches and treatments the federal government and public health officials should take notice of and be focusing on instead of simply waiting around for a vaccine to come to fruition. Boosting our immune system and promoting treatments that slow and prevent the virus from replicating are approaches that can potentially save lives – right now. During a global health crisis of this magnitude, we should be exploring every avenue available to fight the virus and I urge the CDC to actively pursue this lead.