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Antiparasitic treatment could help battle COVID-19

06 April 2020

Emerging research has demonstrated that Ivermectin, a widely available antiparasitic treatment for cattle, inhibits the causative virus for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in vitro.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne have shown that the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin can reduce and kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the causative agent of COVID-19, 48 hours after exposure. The trial demonstrated that a single dose of Ivermectin could stop SARS-CoV-2 growing in cell culture.

Though this sounds promising, health authorities are warning people against self-medicating with Ivermectin as it could be fatal. The current research has not provided any information on appropriate dosage or delivery. Additional trials need to be carried out in humans before Ivermectin can be safely used.

Dr Kylie Wagstaff, who led the study, explains, “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it.

“…Although the mechanism by which Ivermectin works on the virus is not known, it is likely, based on its action in other viruses, that it works to stop the virus ‘dampening down’ the host cells’ ability to clear it.”

Using Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 depends on the results of additional pre-clinical tests and clinical trials. Dr Wagstaff says that funding is urgently needed to continue research.

Background

Ivermectin is a common veterinary drug, killing a wide range of internal and external parasites in livestock and companion animals. The drug is also used in human medicine to treat other parasitic infections like headlice and river blindness. Since Ivermectin included on the WHO model list of essential medicines, it is widely available and is an excellent candidate for re-purposing for other treatments.

Researchers have shown that the drug has strong anti-viral potential in in vitro trials – targeting both DNA-based and RNA-based viruses and inhibiting their replication. However, this in vitro efficacy hasn’t always translated in human trials.

Read the original abstract here.



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