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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University researchers discover existing drug can disrupt coronavirus replication, offering promise of potential antiviral

Posted by Communications and Marketing on November 22, 2022 in News

When SARS-CoV-2 began its sweep across the globe, scientists set off on a daunting quest to both develop vaccines and look for ways to treat a novel coronavirus that appeared to be highly transmissible with devastating consequences.

Those efforts included an examination of existing drugs that could be repurposed to safely and effectively treat people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Virologists at Dalhousie University took on that challenge, using their work researching antivirals for influenza viruses to explore drugs that could be used in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2.

In a new paper, they describe how they discovered a new effect for an FDA-approved drug known as 6-thioguanine, or 6-TG.

In cell culture experiments, they found that the drug -- normally used in cancer therapies and the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome -- can inhibit the replication of human coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. It does that by interfering with the creation of the virus's hallmark spike proteins, which are needed to penetrate the host cells and initiate infection. Without them, viruses like SARS-CoV-2 cannot interact with host cells to cause infection.

Drs. Eric Pringle and Brett Duguay, two post-doctoral fellows in Dal's Faculty of Medicine, led the research and are available to discuss their findings and how they could eventually help in the development of effective, safe treatments for future coronavirus outbreaks.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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