Scientists from the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) claim that analogues of two drugs used for the treatment of Gaucher’s disease could be effective against Covid-19.

A study performed by IIBR, run by the country’s Defense Ministry, shows derivatives of Cerdelga and venglustat can act as an antiviral therapeutic against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Cerdelga is a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug, while venglustat is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials. Both potential Covid-19 drugs are specific inhibitors of GlucosylCeramide synthase (GCS).

According to the Israeli study findings, published in bioRxiv preprint website, the combination of these drugs led to a significant decrease in the replication capacity of SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers claim that the reduction in viral replication prevents further cell damage after infection; they carried out the study in cell culture before testing the drugs on animals.

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In their publication, the researchers said: “Infection with SARS-CoV-2 reduced cell viability to 40% in the untreated cell. However, when treated with Cerdelga and venglustat, cell viability was increased to between 75% and 100%, demonstrating that they “have an antiviral effect on the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate in vitro.”

Both drugs were also effective against Neuroinvasive Sindbis virus (SVNI), West Nile virus and Influenza A virus.

Commenting on the research, the Defense Ministry said that the results indicate the drugs’ potential to treat different viral diseases, including future outbreaks of new viruses, if they secure clinical approval, reported TimesNowNews.

Last month, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that IIBR has made ‘significant’ progress in creating a Covid-19 vaccine prototype and preparations are underway for animal testing.