German researchers identify potential drug for Covid-19

6 March 2020 (Last Updated September 7th, 2020 17:36)

Scientists at the German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research have found that an existing drug may help treat Covid-19.

German researchers identify potential drug for Covid-19
An existing drug has been found effective against COVID-19 by the German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research. Credit: Shutterstock.com

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Scientists at the German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research have found that an existing drug may help treat Covid-19.

As well as Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the scientists worked with researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation, the BG-Unfallklinik Murnau, the LMU Munich, the Robert Koch Institute and the German Center for Infection Research.

The research aimed to understand the entry of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, into host cells, as well as determine approaches to block the process.

Research findings showed that SARS-CoV-2 requires cellular protein TMPRSS2 to enter hosts’ lung cells.

German Primate Center Infection Biology Unit head Stefan Pöhlmann said: “Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 requires the protease TMPRSS2, which is present in the human body, to enter cells. This protease is a potential target for therapeutic intervention.”

Furthermore, the team observed that the drug camostat mesilate, known to act against TMPRSS2, could block novel coronavirus infection, offering promise for a new treatment option (Cell).

Camostat has approval in Japan for the treatment of pancreatic inflammation.

When tested on SARS-CoV-2 isolated from a patient, camostat blocked the entry of the virus into lung cells, noted the researchers.

Study lead author Markus Hoffmann added: “We have tested SARS-CoV-2 isolated from a patient and found that camostat mesilate blocks entry of the virus into lung cells.

“Our results suggest that camostat mesilate might also protect against COVID-19. This should be investigated in clinical trials.”