Scientists at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) have discovered that two drugs designed to treat Gaucher disease are effective against the COVID-19 coronavirus and could potentially protect against other viruses.
Gaucher disease is the result of a buildup of certain fatty substances in certain organs, particularly the spleen and liver causing organs to enlarge and can affect their function.
Scientists tested an analog of the FDA-approved drug Cerdelga, and an analog of a second drug, Venglustat, which is currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials, according to a statement released by the Defense Ministry.
The study by the IIBR found that “antiviral treatment using both drugs led to a significant reduction in the replication capacity of the coronavirus and to the destruction of the infected cell. The decrease in virus replication prevents further cell damage following infection.”
Researchers noted that the drugs were found to be effective against different virus strains, including influenza and West Nile fever.
Scientists were testing the drugs on animals infected with COVID-19 to see if they will yield similar results.
If successful, the treatment could be readily obtainable since analogs of the specific compounds tested have already been studied clinically and can be fast-tracked for public use.
The IIBR has been leading Israeli efforts to develop a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus, including isolating a key coronavirus antibody in blood taken from those who recovered from the virus.