Antiviral drug derived from a plant called Thapsia may be “highly effective” against coronavirus according to latest research conducted in the UK published on scientific news website Eurekalert.org. The medication used in prostate cancer treatment could also help fight future pandemics.
The scientists found that the antiviral thapsigargin is very effective in COVID-19 treatment. The antiviral, in small doses, triggers immune response against the three major types of human respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, common cold and influenza A. Thapsigargin is effective against viral infection when used before or during active infection, according to the researchers. It prevents the virus from replicating itself in the cells for at least 48h.
The study was led by University of Nottingham, Animal and Plant Health Agency, China Agricultural University and the Pirbright Institute.
“Whilst we are still at the early stages of research into this antiviral and its impact on how viruses such as COVID-19 can be treated, these findings are hugely significant,” said Professor Kin-Chow Chang.
“The current pandemic highlights the need for effective antivirals to treat active infections, as well as vaccines, to prevent the infection.”
“Given that future pandemics are likely to be of animal origin, where animal-to-human and reverse zoonotic (human-to-animal) spread take place, a new generation of antivirals, such as thapsigargin, could play a key role in the control and treatment of important viral infections in both humans and animals,” he explained.
“Although more testing is clearly needed, current findings strongly indicate that thapsigargin and its derivatives are promising antiviral treatments against COVID-19 and influenza virus, and have the potential to defend us against the next Disease X pandemic,” he added.