Existing antiviral drugs have new uses against multiple viruses

Existing antiviral drugs have new uses against multiple viruses

A test of 55 antiviral drugs by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), has found seven compounds that show new effects against multiple viruses.

Existing and emerging viral diseases such as Ebola virus, influenza and Zika virus are an ever-growing problem, particularly in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged for better control of viral diseases, however, developing antiviral drugs for this purpose can be taxing.

A team of scientists and clinicians led by Denis Kainov from NTNU, have approved investigational and experimental antiviral agents that have been shown to be safe in humans to search for new uses for these substances against existing and emerging viruses.

The most powerful tools to combat viral diseases are antiviral drugs and vaccines, however, most of these only target a single virus, therefore, according to researchers, providing a ‘one drug-one bug’ solution.

Covering multiple viruses

In contrast to this, broad-spectrum antivirals (BSAs) are able to cover multiple viruses and therefore can reduce the likelihood of development of resistance.

This is in turn means that some BSAs can be used for:

  • Rapid management of new or drug resistant strains;
  • Line treatment or for prophylaxis of acute virus infections; and
  • For viral co-infections, which can reduce the complexity of treatment.

There were 59 compounds identified that already had evidence of safety in humans that targeted at least three viral diseases. Following tests on 55 of the compounds from/on eight different viruses, researchers found that seven showed new effects against HIV-1, Zika virus and Rift Valley Fever.

Kainov said: “Re-purposing these therapeutics from one viral disease to another could save resources and time needed for development of novel drugs.”

Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs

These results, published in Antiviral Research, show that existing human safe BSAs could be used on other viral infections. The overall goal is to create broad-spectrum antiviral drugs, according to reserachers.

Aleksandr Ianevsky, the first author of the study, said: “Effective treatment with broad-spectrum antivirals may shortly become available, pending the results of further pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. The most effective and tolerable compounds will expand the available therapeutics for the treatment of viral diseases.”

Combat emerging viral threats

Magnar Bjørås, a professor at NTNU’s Department of Molecular Medicine, concluded: “We hope that not only broad-spectrum antibiotics, but also broad-spectrum antivirals will be available in a future.

“These drugs could be used as first-line therapeutics to combat emerging and re-emerging viral threats that have a global impact, improving preparedness and the protection of the general population from viral epidemics and pandemics.”

Source: Gemini Research News

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