MONTREAL – researchers believe that drugs already used to treat a variety of health problems, in some cases for tens of years, could effectively combat the coronavirus, and the research projects in this direction are multiplying.
The newspaper “New York Times” cites the example of chlorpromazine that has been used since the 1950s to treat schizophrenia but which could also prevent the coronavirus to invade cells.
The remdesivir, an antiviral drug, and chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine, two anti-malarial drugs, are other examples well known to the public.
Other molecules in the study were first of all designed for health problems such as cancer, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, allergies, arthritis, and even menstrual periods to be irregular.
Many researchers believe that this “repositioning of a drug” (drug repurposing, in English) represents the best hope of quickly identifying new weapons with which to fight the pandemic.
In 2012, for example, of the work carried out at the University of Maryland had targeted 27 molecules existing apparently able to block the virus responsible for the respiratory syndrome in the Middle East, which belongs to the same family as the SARS-CoV-2. Seventeen of them would be interesting to face the new enemy.
Other researchers are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning (machine learning) to accelerate the identification of promising compounds.